Women’s soccer ends preseason on high note, falters in conference opener


The Fort Hays State University women’s soccer team took on the Washburn University Ichabod’s Friday night.

Heading into the last non-conference match of the year, the Tigers averaged 8.4 shots per game with 1.2 goals scored per game, while Washburn sat at 11.6 shots per game and 2 goals scored per game.

The first half remained scoreless, as neither team broke through with a goal. FHSU registered just three shots, while Washburn attempted five. At goalkeeper for the Tigers, senior Megan Kneefel recorded two saves, as did Washburn’s Raegan Wells.

Fort Hays State wasted no time getting on the board in the 2nd half, with Cailey Perkins nabbing her first goal of the year in the 46th minute of the match. Perkins connected with the ball off a volley, hitting it into the left side of the net.

The remainder of the match saw no changes as the Tigers went on to win their final game before conference play. FHSU and Washburn ended the match with 9 shots apiece.

Kneefel ended with four saves on the match, as did Washburn’s Wells.

The Tiger’s work wasn’t done this weekend, heading into their first conference matchup of the year against Emporia State University. The Hornets sat at 5-2 while the Tigers were at 4-2 coming into conference play, with Emporia accounting for one of those losses just last week.

“When you play a team like Emporia, it’s just about heart,” said head coach Blake Reynolds. “They make it such an athletic, physical game that you just have to bring the energy and work rate and commitment to sacrifice [for your team].”

Sunday’s match proved to be difficult from the start. With winds up to 40 mph, possession wound up being a key factor in winning.

Fort Hays State had the wind to their backs for the first half, Emporia against it.

From the first whistle, the Tiger’s struggled to maintain possession against the Hornets’ relentless defense.

Emporia State’s Makenzie Dimarco opened up the scoring for the day in the 11th minute, receiving a cross from Gaby Crowell before hitting the ball across her frame to the lower-left corner of the goal.

The first half ended with the Hornets up 1-0, getting the wind on their side for the second half.

Much of the second half remained scoreless, with ESU controlling the momentum of the game.

It took until the 72nd minute of the match for another goal to be scored, once again by Emporia State. Off a corner from Joanie Westcoat, Tanna Benefiel rose up to head the ball home for the Hornets’ second goal.

ESU’s lead was cut in half in the 86th minute. Streaking in behind for a through ball, Emily Reitz got fouled from behind to earn the Tiger’s a penalty kick. Darby Hirsch stepped up for the task, sending home her third goal of the season.

This goal appeared to give Fort Hays State life, as they put on high pressure for the remainder of the match. As time expired, however, the Tigers fell in their MIAA opening match to Emporia State, 2-1.

FHSU’s Kneefel Megan Kneefel moves to 3-2 in matches played, while ESU’s Jillian Patton moves to 6-2.

Fort Hays State is back in action next week as they travel to Edmond, Oklahoma to take on No. 14 University of Central Oklahoma Friday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. On their way back to Hays, the Tigers will stop in to play a new member of the MIAA, Newman University, in Wichita on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m.

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