Recently, the Prairie Fire offense has taken on stagnant characteristics, being shut out in three of their last four games coming into the final week of play. That trend continued as Knox dropped a 2-0 decision to Beloit College in Saturday’s rematch of a tie game last year, and an 8-1 verdict in Tuesday afternoon’s contest against NAIA opponent Ashford University.
In Saturday’s loss against the Buccaneers, Knox showcased an uncharacteristic inability to finish offensively inside the box. This was evident early, with Knox having several scoring opportunities deep in Beloit territory, but unable to convert those opportunities into points. On the positive side, however, the Fire did move the ball well against a stout Buccaneer defense, arguably better than their counterparts’ offense. Knox won the battle in shots-on-goal 11 to nine, but Beloit’s ability to convert was the story of the game.
The game remained scoreless until Beloit’s Silas Connelly knocked in the first goal of the game on Bo Wilkins’ assist in the 36th minute. Defense ruled the day for the rest of the game, with Beloit scoring their second goal in the 87th minute, again on a Connelly score from Wilkins, effectively putting the game out of reach for the Prairie Fire.
For the Prairie Fire, senior Clint Moore was the offensive star. Although none resulted in a Knox score, the midfielder from Fort Lupton, Co. took five shots – four on goal – effectively keeping the pressure on the Buccaneers’ defense. Seven other members of the Prairie Fire notched shots-on-goal in the game. Senior goalkeeper Cary Archer had seven saves for the Fire, but Knox’s inability to finish came back to haunt the team in the end.
“I think we’ve been a little hesitant to take shots at the top of the box,” said junior Jeff Wozencraft. “We just need to keep putting shots on-goal. Anything can happen if we get shots-on-goal.”
“The game against Beloit was an unfortunate loss and one which we did not expect,” said senior forward/midfielder Abasam Onyia, who was one of the eight Prairie Fire players with at least one shot-on-goal. “But we, as a team, never cry over spilled milk.”
The Buccaneers moved to 5-7-2 on the year with the victory.
Unfortunately, Tuesday afternoon’s game against NAIA opponent Ashford University went even worse for the Prairie Fire. The Saints, who are allowed to give athletic scholarships, completely overmatched Knox in the 8-1 game.
The Prairie Fire could not contain Ashford senior forward Clay Benore, who turned in a four-goal effort for the Saints. Benore scored in the 20th, 24th, 46th, and 61st minutes, respectively, and added an assist in the 28th minute, a goal that deflected off a Knox player into the goal. Ashford also received goals from Soroush Kalhor in the seventh minute, Marshall Miller in the 79th, and Josh Katcher in the 86th.
For Knox, the offense once again remained dormant until the 83rd minute, when junior midfielder Ben Ramsay knocked in a goal from just inside the box off an assist from freshman Oliver Horton. The Prairie Fire, who had just six shots-on-goal compared with 15 for the Saints, received another solid effort from Moore, who added two more shots-on-goal in the losing effort. Senior Jean-Igor Michaux, freshman Marcos Moreno, and Horton provided a shot-on-goal each for the Fire.
“We worked the ball well and worked it quickly at times,” Wozencraft said. “But there were times when we were all pushed up-field on the attack and got counter-attacked. We weren’t able to get back and stop their play.”
The losses drop Knox to 5-11 on the season.
Knox wraps up its regular season schedule with a home game against Midwest Conference foe Grinnell at 11 a.m., Saturday at Jorge Prats Field.
“We are especially looking forward to the game against Grinnell,” Onyia said. “which should be a victorious day.”