MANHATTAN – K-State opened a season at Buser Family Park for just the second time in its history, but the reigning Big 12 regular season champions Oklahoma State spoiled the Wildcats’ 2020 opener with a 3-0 win on Saturday night.
Originally slated to play one another on November 6, the Wildcats and Cowgirls were able to move up the match to Saturday after their original opponents, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, respectively, were forced to postpone due to positive COVID-19 cases and limited rosters.
“It’s a challenge for the preparation stage and that’s kind of what we saw right now,” said K-State head coach Mike Dibbini. “What you saw was an experienced team that came in and was prepared for us and, had we had another day or two to prepare, maybe the storyline is different.
“You’ve got seven underclassmen and four seniors out there starting the game, you know that there’s going to be some mistakes when you have some youth and I think that’s the big positive for us. Once the game settled and you watched the game of soccer and our brand of soccer, you saw some nice buildups on our part and you saw a nice attack. It just took that first ten minutes for us to realize we could do that.”
The Cowgirls (1-0-0) scored just two minutes into the match, as Grace Yochum sailed a ball in from almost 30 yards to the shock of both squads.
Just moments later Oklahoma State upped its lead to 2-0, as Gabriella Coleman pounced on a loose ball at the top of K-State’s six-yard box.
“I thought we were mentally scared, timid, the first five or ten minutes,” said Dibbini about the quick start from the Cowgirls. “I think, you’re playing a defending Big 12 champ, you’re at home, you haven’t played in six months, the nerves weren’t settling, and we gave up goals that cost us the game. It’s hard at this level when you’re giving up goals that early to come back and compete. I thought the second half was much better, to be honest.”
K-State (0-1-0) was able to settle into the match and mount a number of attacks. Senior defender Shelby Lierz produced a quality chance during the run but narrowly missed wide right.
“I think that coming back together as a team after that (second) goal, we talked as a team and had to get our energy back up,” said Lierz about the team’s mindset. “I think that we responded pretty well after that.”
The Cowgirls added a third goal in the 32nd minute, as Olyvia Dowell received a pass from Camy Huddleston and took a side kick at the ball, which one-hopped in front of K-State goalkeeper Alaina Werremeyer and into the net.
Werremeyer was just the second true freshman goalkeeper to make her K-State debut between the pipes in a season-opener, joining Tania Chassot from the first match in program history on August 19, 2016, at Saint Louis. For the night, Werremeyer finished with two saves.
“There’s a lot of anticipation going into the game,” said Werremeyer about her first collegiate start. “I was really excited and my girls took care of me so I felt really settled in. They make it easy to play behind.”
In the second half, the Wildcats registered a 6-5 advantage in total shots. Lierz attributed the second half to better communication.
“In the halftime talk, we were trying to figure out where the disconnect was between our teammates and just trying to get the ball and switching it so I think coming together at halftime and trying to get the whole team on the same page and having more fire in us. So I think that was part of the reason.”
Joining Werremeyer in making their K-State debuts were seven Wildcats including Kyler Goins and Presli Pearson in the starting lineup. Marissa Gohr, Lily Hollis, Erin Morrissey, Lily Parker and Maddie Weichel all made their first appearance as Wildcats as substitutes.
Goins tied with senior Christina Baxter for total shot attempts with two.
K-State will make its first road trip of the 2020 season next week, as the Wildcats travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to face West Virginia on Friday, September 18, at 6 p.m. (CDT). The match will air on 101.5 KROCK in Manhattan and for free at kstatesports.com.
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