by Adam Watts
After 83 minutes of scoreless play, the Dragon women’s soccer team was hoping for a fairy tale ending to Senior Day.
The fairy tale was not meant to be, however, and in the 84th minute the Dragon’s hopes for victory turned into a Halloween pumpkin.
Andrea Muller scored on a header off a corner kick from Emily Christensen to lift the University of Mary over the Dragons 1-0 on Friday afternoon in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference competition.This was the fourth time this season and second game in a row Dragons conceded a game-sealing goal with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.
Last weekend in their loss to Sioux Falls, the Dragons allowed a goal in the 85th minute. Earlier in the season they had allowed goals in the 86th minute against Northern State and the 93rd against Winona State.
Erin Nyberg, a senior and captain for the Dragons kept her spirits up after the game.
“I don’t feel like we lost,” said Nyberg. “We played too well. I feel like we should have won except for the last few minutes of the game. We played better soccer, I think, all around.”
“It’s hard— when you work so hard and I think we had a better run of play and we created opportunities,” coach Rollie Bulock said of losing in the final minutes. “There were six minutes left. The game isn’t over. You keep going. You keep working.”
The Dragons had several chances to score during the game including a 70th minute strike from freshman forward Annika Greaney that beat Mary’s keeper, Shelby Buttron, to the top right corner but drifted just to the right of the goal.
Erin Nyberg had a game-high three shots on goal. One of her shots was a dart off a volley that went straight at the keeper and was easily corralled in her abdomen.
“It was a little embarrassing — I kicked it right at her,” Nyberg said of the shot.
A goal for Nyberg on Senior Day would have been something right out of a fairy tale. Both she and midfielder Stephanie Lindo were recognized before the game.
They were each presented with a bouquet of flowers and shared words with coach Bulock at midfield.
“The never-give-up, keep- working attitude: this is what these two bring to the team,” Bulock said, praising his seniors, “Their legacy they’ve left behind. You never quit. You always keep working. You take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you.”
While Nyberg had a productive day, Lindo was left to watch from the sidelines when she tweaked her hamstring only a few minutes into the game. She did not let the injury get her down, however.
“Sitting on the bench she was supporting the players on the field,” Bulock said of the injured senior.
“She was getting everybody riled up on the bench and keeping them going.”
The Dragons started the game with two seniors on the field and finished with only one. Next season there will be more experienced players seeing time.
There are 10 juniors on the roster as well as six sophomores and nine freshmen.
The Bulock hopes that his younger players are learning from the close games and improving.
“There is no doubt about it; we’ve come a long ways this year, in so many close games,” said Bulock. “Eventually with all the experience we’re getting out here those close games are going to start going our way.”