Last Saturday, at Jorge Prats Soccer Field, the Prairie Fire women’s soccer team played Midwest Conference (MWC) opponent Grinnell College and was defeated 5-0, but this year’s game was not a repeat of last year.
“Last year, we lost to them 12-0,” said junior Cassie Milleville. “Coming into the game, we wanted to make sure we played as hard as we could and block out what happened last year.”
The Prairie Fire was able to do just that with Jorge Prats in attendance. However, like last year, the Pioneers jumped out on top early.
One minute into the game, senior Kim Durinick scored the Pioneers first goal on an assist from Sydney Stoker. Eighteen minutes later, Grinnell was up 2-0 when Katherine Ni found the net off an assist from Lara Meyer. Knox’s defense was able to hold the Pioneers off for seven more minutes, but then Kelly Brouse scored on a penalty kick.
Grinnell’s final goal of the first half came in the 37th minute when the ball deflected off of one of the Prairie Fire. At the end of the first half, last year, the Pioneers, the host team, had 40 shots and a 5-0 lead. This year, Grinnell had 13 shots and a 4-0 lead at the half.
In the second half, the clock of Bruce Shadbolt Memorial scoreboard only stopped once and did so a minute into the half when Grinnell’s Miki Nakamura scored off an assist from Stoker. Eleven minutes after Nakamura’s goal, there was excitement on the Knox sideline but it was not because of a goal.
Prairie Fire sophomore Margaret Hart had to leave the game due to an equipment issue. Her right shoe, a size eight and a half, black and red Nike blew out, and the Knox coaches scrambled to find her replacement shoes. Prairie Fire head coach Nikki McLellan happened to have a size eight pair of white and black Adidas in the shed behind the scorer’s table, which Hart tried on and was going to play in, but they ended up being tight. So, McLellan searched for the athletic version of duct tape, athletic tape, and once Hart’s shoe was taped up, she went back into the game. At the end of the second half, the Pioneers had 14 shots compared to last year’s 38 shots.
“I think that the most important thing to know about this game is we refused to be intimidated by this team,” said Knox assistant coach John Baillie.
The Prairie Fire may have refused to be scared, but they were only able to get one shot off in the entire game just like last year.
“This year, we fought against Grinnell,” Milleville said. “We didn’t let them get as many opportunities, and every single play was hard fought and hard earned. We had a lot of opportunities in this year’s game that we didn’t utilize on last year. I think we came out a lot stronger, a lot more positive and a lot more willing to attack the ball.”
The loss ended the season for Knox and brought their record to 1-17 overall, 1-8 in the MWC.
“This season had its ups and downs, but we finished,” Milleville said. “We got through it. The girls that came on played as hard as they could and they were awesome. We finished as a team. We finished together and still working together on the field. You really can’t ask for more than that.”
Prairie Fire freshman goalkeeper Alex Rauland had 276 total saves for the season, 16 versus the Pioneers, which broke Milleville’s school record for most saves in a single season. Rauland is in second place all-time in the MWC for saves in a single season.
For those of you who did not get the opportunity to walk over to Jorge Prats Soccer Field this year to catch a glimpse of the women in action, make sure you do next year. You never know, you might be in attendance to see Rauland overtake Michelle Foiles of Illinois College for the most saves in the MWC in a single season.