BY CAYDEN SANDERS
PHOTOS BY REBEKAH REED AND MADISON SHAPLAND
The Fort Hays State women’s soccer team looked to start a two-game win streak against the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers on Monday, and after an unassisted goal by Gracen Chaney, the Tigers won the game 1-0.
The Tigers are in a good position compared to last season. With four games already down in the team’s 2022 season, FHSU has a 3-0-1 record compared to their 2-1-1 mark at this point in 2021.
First-year head coach Tyson John is happy his team is doing well with the short time this team has had to build chemistry.
“It only been four weeks with our team has fully been here, whether they are a transfer or a freshman, it will take a bit of time for us to find a chemistry on the field,” John said.
The team has changed its play styles from a season ago, playing a more aggressive offensive scheme compared to last year’s conservative approach.
In FHSU’s two home games, the Tigers had 66 percent possession on the offensive side of the ball and in the second half of the game against the Rangers, the Tigers pushed the percentage of the field position to 68 percent by the end of the game.
“We will take the increase in attacking position; any increase in that stat line is good, but it’s good that we are starting to make that increase now,” John said. “We wanted more [offensivley] since the game against Wayne State; our team wanted to be more offensive, which we could put out 17 shots. Tonight just turned into the best offensive game we have had so far this season. We need to get more on target, but it’s great that we are trying to score.”
The Tigers’ lone goal against the Rangers came from Chaney on a corner kick in the 35th minute. Her shot bounced off the keeper’s mits and into the back of the net.
FHSU had a season-high in shots on the goal and only allowed six shots during the entire game.
While the shot difference looks like the Rangers did not have any chances, that was not the case. NW Oklahoma State pushed the ball against the Tigers all night. During the second half, the Rangers moved the ball to the outside to beat the defense and make the Fort Hays defense form a weak position, forcing the Tigers to make an error.
The Rangers had some great shots but their best chance came on the show below.
The defense of the Tigers was out of shape but made corrections mid-play that helped the Tigers make the stop.
“Of course, as a coach, I will worry if my defense is out of place, but I need to credit my defenders (Madden, Pichino, Rietz); they covered up our mistakes quite well,” John said. “[Isabel] Robben’s footwork on that shot was excellent, it’s one of the most challenging saves, and a lot of keepers will jump early, but she takes two extra steps and ultimately keeps the game away from a 1-1 tie.”
The Rangers kept pushing the pace as NW Oklahoma State added three more shots from their forwards in the second half.
After the game, John expressed his happiness with his team’s performance this early in the season.
“The Rangers are not a bad team; they finished top two or three in their conference just one year ago,” he said. “So for us, this is a big win as this is the type of game we need to have against a team like this.”
The Tigers move to 3-1 on the season and go on the road against MIAA rival Nebraska Kearney to open up conference play on Friday. First kick is set for 7 p.m. and can be viewed on the MIAA Network.