Without two of their starters and despite a solid effort against their rivals, the Knox College women’s soccer team lost 3-0 to Monmouth College on Tuesday night.
An injury-laden front line trotted onto the field for the Prairie Fire this week against the Fighting Scots. Knox’s team had lost not only freshman Madison Dana to an ankle injury, but also sophomore Ella Petersen to a knee injury. Both are season-ending injuries.
Losing two starters this late in the year would cripple the confidence of most squads, but not for head coach Melissa Joseph’s team.
“The fantastic thing about this team is that when we’re down we play better; we rise to the challenge, and that’s what I asked this team to do [against Monmouth].” Joseph said.
And the Prairie Fire did indeed rise to the occasion. For nearly 80 minutes, Knox held the Fighting Scots to only one goal.
Key to keeping the Prairie Fire in the game was the exemplary play by junior goaltender Rachel Koene. She recorded a whopping 14 saves in the game, one of which was on a diving save to her back shoulder on a well-headed ball that elicited gasps and then whooping cheers from the entire crowd.
But in the last 10 minutes, Monmouth pulled away with two goals just 38 seconds apart. The first came off an extremely well-struck penalty kick by Monmouth freshman Lauren Kellen.
The ball twisted low and toward the bottom left corner of the net before hitting the post and bouncing in to make the score 2-0.
“It hit off the post pretty hard. It was an unlucky break, but that happens,” Koene said.
Under a minute later, Monmouth would tally another goal, sealing the victory at 3-0.
At several points in the game in which one could tell Knox was missing a few integral parts of their team. A normally solid defense was crossed over and picked apart, and Knox fell just short on a few offensive opportunities that they may have normally capitalized on.
In the end, Monmouth simply took advantage of their opportunities when they had them, threatening on several corners, scoring on a free kick and ultimately keeping the possession away from the Prairie Fire.
Despite the loss, Koene was not completely disappointed with the team’s performance.
“I think we played pretty well through some adversity, and we came out and played hard. There is not one person who I can say I wasn’t proud of,” she said.
Joseph shared Koene’s sentiment.
“I’m very very proud of my team for performing the way they did in the face of [playing a little shorthanded],” she said.
Picking themselves up from defeat at the hands of a bitter rival will certainly be tough, but Knox plans to do so this homecoming weekend against Carroll University.
“It will be a tough game, but we are looking forward to having the support of the fans and everyone on campus. We should be able to build off the [football game’s] energy,” Koene said.
The game is at home this Saturday at 11 a.m.