It can be said games during Homecoming or on Senior Day are especially important, so having both at once can be a lot of pressure. The Knox women’s soccer team stood up to that very challenge over the weekend, taking down the Beloit Buccaneers 1-0.
Both defenses were in control for most of the game. The first half saw a combined five shots on goal and the Prairie Fire found itself tied with the Buccaneers (3-12-1, 0-6-1 MWC) after 45 minutes of play. Zeroes stayed on the board until the 73rd minute when sophomore forward Arielle Dorman took a pass at the top of the box.
In a similar situation earlier in the game, Dorman had missed her opportunity.
“When [junior Emma Swanson] had made a similar play to me, I kicked it with my left foot and missed badly,” Dorman said.
But she did not fail on the second occasion, putting a shot in the back of the net for her seventh goal of the season. It was Swanson’s sixth assist, giving her 34 points on the year, good for second in the MWC.
In the last 15 minutes ,Knox held on for the shutout, the second of the season for freshman goaltender Rachael Koene. Though she only needed to make four saves, Koene still stands second in the conference with 7.43 saves per game.
It was also a good day for the two Prairie Fire seniors, midfielder Kate McManus and forward Kathryn Sain. Playing in game 49 and game 42 for Knox respectively, McManus and Sain have served as core members of the team for the past three seasons.
Prairie Fire fall to Monmouth
Knox fell to the Fighting Scots (9-5-3, 5-2-1 MWC) 5-0 on Wednesday afternoon. In stifling and windy conditions, the Prairie Fire (7-11-0, 2-7-0 MWC) could not muster much offense, attempting only six shots total, three on goal. Swanson and Dorman, Knox’s leading scorers, fired five of the six shots, with junior Claire Turner attempting the other.
It was a rough day for goalkeeper Koene. She had nine saves, but surrendered nine goals against Monmouth’s relentless offense. Heading into the Monmouth game, Koene had 104 saves in 14 games, good for first in the Midwest Conference. Of course, her high save total is an indictment of the Prairie Fire defense, as they have allowed too many shots throughout the conference season. Still, Koene’s goal against average of 2.93 was good for ninth in the conference before the Monmouth game.
The Fighting Scots finished in a tie for fourth place in the Midwest Conference, while the Prairie Fire finished in eighth place.
Knox’s poor finish had more to do with their inability to score goals than anything else. After a furious offensive start, the Prairie Fire scored only three goals in their last eight games. They surrendered 29 in those games.
Coach Ayers moving on
Prairie Fire head women’s soccer coach Nikki Ayers will be moving on.
Ayers became the head coach in April 2007 after serving as an assistant coach at Grinnell College in 2006. Her career record at Knox was 11-59-1, with her high water mark in wins (7) coming in 2010.
Prior to that, Ayers played soccer at Juniata College, and set school records in career and single-season goal marks.
The search for a new coach is ongoing.