For the Knox women’s soccer team, the home opener against Iowa Wesleyan College could not have started any better.
But like the game at Eureka College a week before, it ended in absolute heartbreak.
The Fire took a 2-1 lead over the Tigers into the intermission, but the Tigers roared out of the break to score an early goal. The Tigers held a Knox offense which had been so efficient in the first half, to no shots-on-goal in the second half before finally taking the game in overtime, 3-2.
Knox rolled out of the starting blocks to take a 1-0 lead on a sixth-minute goal from freshman Danielle Roeder. Roeder punched in her first goal of the young season off a corner kick assist from sophomore Emma Swanson. The Fire took advantage of their home field and controlled the pace of the game for the first 20 minutes.
But a swift shift in momentum and ball control led to Wesleyan’s first goal of the match. In the 26th minute, the Tigers’ Jillian Sulcer scored an unassisted goal on a breakaway to knot the game at one.
However, the Fire bounced back in a hurry. In a true testament to her team’s character, freshman Arielle Dorman broke away for an unassisted goal of her own, giving Knox a 2-1 lead in the 26th minute. Dorman, the team’s leading scorer, has scored four goals in her first five collegiate matches. In comparison, the team’s leading scorer last season, Swanson, scored three goals in the team’s 18 games.
“I come from such a strong area; Seattle is really well-known for its soccer,” said Dorman, who was recently named Prairie Fire Performer of the Week for her efforts. “I was never the best player on my team, and I was never really counted upon to make plays all the time, so learning a new role here has been a big step and a change.”
Wesleyan’s Jennie Mitchell scored in the 49th minute on a cross from Georgetta Lewis, beginning a half in which the Tigers dominated ball control. The Fire held its own on defense, but was never able to get a shot on goal after the half.
In a heroic performance, Fire sophomore Alex Rauland had 22 saves in regulation of the 24 shots on goal the Tigers notched.
“Alex stepped up her game,” assistant coach John Baillie said. “She does things with ease this year that she didn’t do last year. She plays hard and plays to win and does all she can to move the program forward.”
Following a controversy on whether or not the overtime period should actually be played (the game was a nonconference one), the Fire went back on the field to try and knock off the Tigers in sudden death overtime. However, a Lewis goal only 21 seconds into the overtime period ended any hopes the Fire had.
In other action since the Fire began play, Knox lost to Franklin College (5-2), Hanover College (7-0), Eureka (2-1 in OT), and William Penn (8-1). Dorman scored three goals in the four matches, while senior Rozie Smith tallied the last goal. Sophomore Claire Turner and Swanson added an assist apiece while Rauland notched 39 saves total.
Knox returns to action this Saturday in Clinton, Iowa against NAIA Ashland College before returning home for Sunday’s matchup with MacMurray.
Despite the tough start, Baillie sees room for hope.
“The thing I love about this team is that it sparks itself,” he said. “They recognize how close they are and look at each new game as a new opportunity.”