After a trio of nonconference blowout wins in mid-September, hopes were high for women’s soccer. But now, after four straight losses, including three against Midwest Conference teams, the season is slipping away.
Two of these losses came this past weekend. On Saturday, Lawrence University defeated the Prairie Fire 3-0 at Jorge Prats Field. Down just 1-0 at the half, the Prairie Fire could muster almost no offense against the staunch Viking defense, attempting only six shots. Five of those came from the team’s one-two offensive punch, junior Emma Swanson and sophomore Arielle Dorman.
Lawrence, on the other hand, had little trouble penetrating the Prairie Fire defense, recording more shots on goal (10) than the Prairie Fire’s six total shots. Junior Mollie Strawn, starting her first game as goalkeeper all season, had seven saves. Strawn replaced freshman Rachael Koene, who missed the game due to injury.
Koene was back in goal on Sunday, but the result was no better, as St. Norbert dropped the Prairie Fire 6-0.
Both shut-out losses were uncharacteristic for the offensively gifted Prairie Fire. Their loss to Lawrence marked their second shut-out loss of the season, and their first since Sept. 4 against Lake Forest College.
With a 5-3 record outside of the Midwest Conference and a 0-4 record in conference, the Prairie Fire have struggled against more familiar foes. But Swanson insists it is just a matter of quality of competition.
“It could just be a midseason slump, injuries and all,” Swanson said. “But, to be honest, the teams we’ve played in conference are just of a higher quality.”
This weekend, the Prairie Fire will look to rebound against conference foe Illinois College. Last season, the team’s only conference win came in a 2-1 victory over the Lady Blues.
On Sunday, they will host Elmhurst College in a nonconference match at home. Elmhurst, a member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, is 10-6 overall with a 3-3 record in the CCIW. Play begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, at Jorge Prats Field.