With the game time temperature in the mid-forties, and occasional freezing rain in the forecast, few coaches would look forward to competing in such conditions.
But women’s soccer head coach Melissa Joseph knew something about her team that gave her confidence despite the weather.
“It was Arielle Dorman’s kind of weather,” Joseph said.
Dorman, junior and Knox’s leading scorer on the year, is a native of Washington state and therefore used to the kind of environment the team faced on Wednesday during their 1-0 win against Illinois College.
Her confidence was evident early in the game, as just four minutes into the game Dorman gave Knox a 1-0 lead. After the Prairie Fire earned a corner kick, Dorman took advantage of the space she was given headed in a cross from junior Sam Thomas. The tally was Dorman’s 12th of the year, which is good for fifth in the Midwest Conference. She is also fifth in the MWC with 29 points this season.
“It was really nice to get a goal in the back of the net early on,” Dorman said. “It gave us a push right from the beginning, and helped set the tone for the entire game.”
From that point on Illinois College was the primary aggressor, as the Lady Blues fired a total of 22 shots in the game, 11 in each half.
Knox withstood the pressure with the help of a stingy effort from the defense’s back line. Sophomores Brynn Cole and Kate Babington joined junior Sam Thomas and senior Claire Turner in gaining heavy praise from their head coach.
“They played the way they had wanted to all year. They kept contained on the offense and cleared everything extremely well,” Joseph said. “Though they out-shot us by a lot, most of their chances were not good, and that is why we were able to keep them off the board. If I had to pick a player of the game it would be Claire Turner.”
Joseph also had positive remarks for the midfield, which helped facilitate both the offensive and defensive efforts of the team.
“They are finally finding a balance between offense and defense. They had an impact both ways, and that is what we need them to do.”
Junior midfielder Sara Johnson, who did not join the team until midway through the season, attributed the improvements to the solid communication between teammates.
“We worked well together [against IC], we talked a lot more which helped us make the right choices about where to put the ball,” Johnson said.
Johnson had the best chance in the second half for the Prairie Fire when a loose ball in the box came to her feet just five yards from the goal. But her shot deflected over the net, leaving Knox to cling to a one-goal lead.
Illinois College continued to attack into the last minutes of the game, but sophomore goaltender Rachael Koene kept the Lady Blues out of the goal, preserving the victory and the shutout.
The win should rejuvenate the team, which was coming off two road losses to Lawrence University and St. Norbert.
“The team finally proved they could execute the game plan. We had been concentrating first all season, and we did that. We wanted to contain the other team’s offensive efforts, and we did that. I’m really proud of our effort,” Joseph said.
This Saturday Knox (3-11-1, 1-5-1 MWC) takes on Lake Forest in their last home game of the season. Joseph believes a repeat performance is possible, especially since the team will be motivated to play well for their three seniors.
In addition to Alex Rauland, Knox will also be celebrating the careers of Claire and Emily Turner.
“We talked about our plan right after the game. We really want to send Alex and the Turners out on a win,” Joseph said.