FHSU beats Lopers; will host MIAA Tournament game


The Fort Hays State women’s soccer team was back in town on Sunday for senior day and the final day of the regular season. After suffering their first loss of the season earlier in the week to Washburn, FHSU needed a victory for a shot at hosting a first-round MIAA Tournament match this weekend. The Tigers took care of business against UNK 1-0 in the “Dirty ’30s match” securing a post-season home game. 

“This was one of the worst games I have ever coached in, I have not seen wind anything like this before,” Head Coach Tyson John said of the windy conditions. “I have had to coach in a torrential downpour, but that was nothing compared to this.”  

The Fort Hays Tigers started the day in the sixth spot of the conference standings, but with the help of instate rival Emporia State knocking off Washburn and Central Oklahoma tying against Newman, The Tigers slid into the four spot due to owning the tiebreaker with UCO, setting up a home MIAA tournament game for FHSU.

“Hosting the tournament means so much to the team and me,” FHSU forward Hannah Mares said. “We have been working hard all year long and to be able to host the tournament is something that we are happy to have the honor of hosting.” 

However, FHSU struggled to secure the game’s lone goal as the weather conditions made moving the ball difficult. The Tigers played the first half going into the sustained 40 mph winds and 60+ mph gusts and went without any shots in the first 45 minutes. FHSU keeper Isabel Robben managed three saves in the first frame, while the FHSU defense gave up six total shots to the Lopers. The game was tied nil-nil at halftime.

After halftime, the Tigers had the wind at their backs and helped push the ball on their attacking side. It was not till the 71st minute of the match that Hannah Mares found the back of the net from a through ball from Reilly Madden. 

“We needed the win here, especially with the conference tournament coming up, so to get the goal at the end was just what our team needed,” Mares said.

FHSU used the wind to attempt 12 shots in the second half with five landing on goal.

The Tigers move to 10-1-7 on the season and will host Central Oklahoma on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in the first round of the MIAA Tournament. The full bracket and information about other MIAA matches can be found here.  

Jadyn Newell sprints down the sideline into Loper territory during FHSU’s matchup with Kearny.
Emily Reitz launches a ball towards the opponents goal, where a teammate is posted.
Midfielder Emily Hutchings headbutts the ball over the Lopers defender.
Snatching the ball, Grace Grundhofer maneuvers past an opposing team’s foot to avoid being tripped up. She carries the ball past midfield for the tigers.
Reilly Madden comes in to back up Hutchings as they receive an inbounds pass.
Britney Arneson looks to snatch a headbutt near the Lopers goal. The game was held in dust storm conditions with wind speed up to 55 mph. “With the wind we just had to play through it, said Arneson. “During the first half when we’re against the wind, it’s all about keeping the ball down and keeping possession. When we’re going with the wind, we’re trying to juggle forward using the wind and take every open shot we can.”
“The game wouldn’t have been so bad without the dust,” said Arneson.
Newall fights to get around a Loper in order to steal the ball.
Goalie Isabel Robben snatches a wind-backed, fast moving on goal shot from the Lopers.
Due to the weather conditions, Ryan McCabe held the ball in place to keep the wind from taking it, while Sullivan Kelly kicked an inbounds ball.
McCabe catches the ref in the middle of action during the game. “Our loss against Washburn actually really helped us,” said McCabe. “It built our confidence and was what we needed to regain our strength.” “It’s all mental right now, but we’re ready [for tournament play].”
Carly Walker leaps in an attempt to block the opponent’s pass.
Gracen Chaney swipes the ball from an opponent and sprint down the field, searching for an opening to pass or dribble to.
Hannah Mares takes an under pressure shot to give the Tigers their winning goal over the Lopers.
Madden not only found Mares in the scoring zone for an assist, but also after the goal for an embrace as teammates gathered to celebrate the scoring shot.
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