BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
PHOTOS BY LAURYN BECKER
It was a cool and windy night for the FHSU women’s soccer home contest versus Emporia State on Friday. The Tigers went into the game with a record of 2-1-1, while the Hornets stood at a clean 4-0. Emporia State is currently ranked #6 in NCAA Division II according to the United Soccer Coaches Top 25.
Tensions were high even before the game.
“This is probably our biggest rival I would say for women’s soccer at this school,” Head Coach Blake Reynolds said.
There was no question of physicality as the game started, neither team shying away from contact at any time.
The start of the game saw a lot of midfield action, with Emporia venturing slightly farther into the Fort Hays side multiple times. ESU also had several chances to score out of throw-ins within the first ten minutes, but were not able to find the net against the Tiger’s defense.
While Emporia had more time on offense in the first half, Fort Hays had several good looks as well, one of the better shots coming from sophomore Emily Hutchings, just after the 26 minute mark. Soon after, a handball violation against the Tigers gave Emporia the chance to score. Hannah Woolery’s shot for the Hornets was first blocked by FHSU keeper Deonna Wellbrock, but Woolery followed the shot and was able to score.
Fort Hays had a couple more chances to score on breakaway offensive runs before the end of the first half, but stayed scoreless, going into halftime down 0-1.
The second half started with a shot attempt from Emporia at the 40-minute mark, but the Tigers quickly turned more aggressive on the offensive end, getting three looks at the goal at 38, 36, and 35 minutes. Their persistence paid off at the 30-minute mark, when Amanda Rapaduski scored her second goal of the season, tying the game. Her goal was the result of a very efficient push up the field, and was followed by several more almost-scores for Fort Hays.
After the offensive revival by Fort Hays in the first 20 minutes of the second half, the game was much more back and forth. Both teams took several more chances, but neither ended up scoring. Emporia had an exciting look at the goal with just two minutes to go, lead by Mackenzie Dimarco, before Fort Hays’ Sullivan Kelly’s defense stopped her.
Tied at 1-1, both teams came into the first overtime energized and ready to start off hot. These ten minutes were again more back and forth with neither team having an edge offensively. Emporia had the best look to score with just a minute left. The ball came into play from the corner, but the shot was no good as Wellbrock came up with a big save.
Emporia came back strong at the start of the second overtime, taking three shots within three minutes. As they defended against multiple close calls, the Tigers were only to make it past midfield a couple of times in the second overtime.
Around the five minute mark, Fort Hays handled the ball well just past midfield for about a minute, but were unable to make anything happen. Their last shot attempt came from Rapaduski with about 40 seconds left in the game. The attempt was unsuccessful, making the final score 1-1.
Reynolds noted the emotion involved in the game, given the rivalry between the two teams and the Tigers’ past two games.
“That game could’ve gone either way,” he said, “There were highs and lows. We went to Colorado last weekend, and we played well but we didn’t get the results that we wanted. We tied one and we lost one, and we shouldn’t have. So, it was a big opportunity, and with a really good team coming in here, we could be nervous about losing two in a row, but we just played so well and I’m so proud of them.”
Fort Hays and Emporia will be meeting again at Emporia, on September 26th, at 2 P.M. That game will be the start of MIAA Conference play.
FHSU took care of business on Sunday, defeating Nebraska Kearney 3-0. Their next game will be at 6:00 p.m. on Friday versus Washburn.