Assistant coach Stacy Pease wasn’t trying to keep her feelings hidden after the IUPUI women’s soccer team dropped its first home match of the season to the Denver Pioneers.
“I feel fucking terrible,” she told her team as they stretched following a 2-1 defeat.
Her message: You weren’t bad, but you weren’t good enough, and that’s not how you win conference matches.
IUPUI was 5-0 at home heading into Sunday afternoon’s match with Denver, which came two days after the Jaguars shut out South Dakota 2-0 in their first Summit League match of the season.
For most of the first half, it looked like IUPUI was on its way to staying unblemished at Michael A. Carroll Stadium. The Jaguars’ offense was in control, outshooting Denver 7-5 and earning two more corner kicks.
When coach Pease was telling her team they played somewhere between bad and good enough, she was referring to the many opportunities IUPUI squandered to net a go-ahead goal in the first half, and then an equalizer in the second.
“We had trouble finishing our opportunities,” senior forward Catherine Raster said, who scored her team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 62nd minute.
How IUPUI’s first and only goal of the match took so long to convert is something this team wants to identify and fix while the conference schedule is still in its infancy.
One of IUPUI’s most promising sequences early involved Raster weaving her way down the right sideline in the 7th minute, whizzing past a host of Denver defenders and crossing the ball to senior forward Tori Minnich, but the Pioneers’ keeper Brittany Wilson deflected her shot.
That was already the Jaguars’ fourth shot of the game.
“We missed an opportunity here,” said head coach Chris Johnson. “We had opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the game to put one or two balls in the back of the net, and we didn’t take advantage of that. When you don’t take advantage of those situations, then you let the other team hang around a lot longer than what they should.”
Like his assistant, coach Johnson wasn’t shy in his post-game thoughts.
“When the starters were in,” Johnson said “I thought we controlled things. We were able to hold the ball up top, and we were getting numbers forward like we wanted to do.”
The Jaguars didn’t make their first substitution until the 21st minute.
“I thought the kids coming off the bench were not bringing as much as they need to,” Johnson added.
After a fair number of opportunities, Denver netted the first goal of the game in the 37th minute. Pioneers forward Jessie Dancy received a good cross from the left side, something Denver was able to do consistently throughout the match, and headed it right by IUPUI keeper Catherine Schmidt, who took her fourth loss of the season.
The Pioneers weren’t boasting the best record (4-8-0) before Sunday’s match, but they were undefeated when scoring a goal, a trend that held true against the Jaguars.
Despite a decided advantage in most statistical categories, IUPUI went into the half down 1-0.
Shortly into the second half, the Pioneers struck again. This time it was midfielder Hannah Adler who tapped the ball past Schmidt.
“It always gets kind of messy when it gets on top of the box, and you’re trying to figure out whether you want to come out or your defender’s going to get that for you,” said Schmidt, who seemed to hesitate on the play.
“In that moment I saw the girl maybe trying to turn in, so I stepped and … I wasn’t ready.”
While the Jaguars struggled to capitalize on their numerous opportunities, the Pioneers made the most of theirs.
“They honestly didn’t have that many chances on us at all,” said Schmidt. “I think they were really good at utilizing the opportunities they had and just put them away. I didn’t see anything really special up top at all.”
Raster’s second-half goal was the start of an IUPUI comeback that never came to fruition. It was too little, too late for the Jaguars. Still, it was a goal that could have given the Jaguars some momentum.
“Krissy (Kirkhoff) just played a really nice through ball,” Raster said, “and I was just lucky that I could get a touch on it before the keeper came out, and I just shot it because I didn’t know if anyone was gonna be there, and it went in.”
While Raster had an empty net to shoot at, the ball was traveling quickly toward the goal line on the left side. She put an accurate left foot on it and found the far side of the net.
The ball went through Raster often on Sunday, and there wasn’t a Denver defender equipped with another speed to keep up with her. At the end of the day, though, it was another finish—not speed—that the Jaguars lacked.
“We did do some good things out here I think,” Raster said. “We just need to put it all together and obviously capitalize on our opportunities.”