By: Martin Schlegel
On a day when temperatures hovered in the mid-20s, the Dragons women’s soccer team fell short of a win on “Senior Day.”
Losing 2-1 to the University of Mary, MSUM (1-12-3) came out with nervous energy to start the game. The Dragons weren’t connecting on breakout passes and were forced to play defensively for a large portion of the first half.
Dragons head coach Christie Kopietz said the team was affected by emotions of senior day.
“You always want to send them on a good note and that brings also a little bit of pressure,” Kopietz said about senior day. “The cold also affects us a little bit.”
Once settled down, the Dragons pushed back and began to challenge U-Mary for the early lead.
Twenty-three minutes into the first half, the Dragons were denied a goal after a sequence in which the ball was deflected toward the net on a corner kick. The ball hit the crossbar, bouncing straight down and away from the goalie’s reach. The bouncing ball found an MSUM player who tried to deflect the ball into the net. A Marauder defenseman was there to stop the second chance effort.
After the kerfuffle in front of the net, the ball wildly bounced nearly to midfield past everyone except a Marauder forward and two MSUM defensemen, turning into a quasi-breakaway.
The Marauders failed to score on the breakaway but Emma Davies cashed in minutes afterward, giving U-Mary a 1-0 lead.
Back on the attack, the Marauders put pressure on the Dragons defense. Nearly 10 minutes later, Elizabeth Patterson netted a goal for U-Mary, giving the team a 2-0 lead.
The Dragons quickly responded 1 minute later with a goal of its own. Annika Greaney found herself in front of the net, tried a shot but had the ball deflected back to her. Greaney then chipped the ball over the goalie for a goal with 8 minutes left in the first half.
Suddenly the Dragons were back in the game with a little momentum going into the second half down 2-1.
“2-0 is the worst lead in soccer, historically,” Kopietz said. “Getting that first goal and then trying to get the second goal (was harder). We were a little tired and a little cold.”
The Marauders held constant offensive pressure for the beginning of the second half. However, neither team scored in the second half.
With less than 10 minutes left in the game, the Dragons forced long stretch passes in last-ditch efforts to tie the game. Only twice would the Dragons come close to scoring.
“I thought we needed to over hit the ball and put over the back defenders,” Kopietz said about the strategy in the second half. “On a hard ground like today, it was hard to over hit a ball.”
For the final home game of the season, the Dragons soccer team honored its three senior players. Reagan Von Berge, goalkeeper Corina Edgington, and defender Jenai DeNardo all played in their last home game in a Dragons uniform.
“It’s been a very long and emotional season because we’re so close but still a little bit far away,” Kopietz said. “It’s so hard on senior day. It’s really hard to say goodbye and know this is their last moment playing here.
“I’m just really grateful to the three of them for sticking it out through the coaching change and for embracing it. They’re all phenomenal young women. I’m going to miss all of them dearly.”
Von Berge said her and the rest of the team have formed a bond which she’ll miss after she graduates.
“It’s bittersweet,” Von Berge said. “I’m so proud of how far our team has come in the past four years. We’ve made huge improvements and I’m excited for everyone. I am going to miss hanging out with my best friends every day. Just the team chemistry and how close we’ve all gotten.”