Scoring isn’t the only thing in soccer, but it wins matches, and a program that needs it badly lost one of the best women for the job Thursday night.
Kansas State’s 2-1, home-opening loss to Arkansas State was forgettable for the hosts on its own merits — it extended the Wildcats’ losing streak to 12 matches dating back to last season — but especially because forward Hannah Davis, who scored her team’s lone goal, left with an injury in the second half.
That, in short, describes the way in which K-State opened the 2019 home season in the new Buser Family Park.
“This is a tough one to swallow,” K-State coach Mike Dibbini said. “Obviously we were the better team. The lack of execution — we had chances. It’s just one of those tough matches to be involved in because you do everything right, but the goal wasn’t nice to us today.”
The Wildcats (0-2-1) still have time, but already, a lack of offensive production has defined their young season. They followed a season-opening, 3-2 loss to Creighton on Friday with a scoreless draw against Omaha two days later.
Still, they’ve given themselves chances. On Thursday night, K-State owned a 27-5 edge in shots — 17-2 in the second half — including a 6-4 advantage in shots on goal. The offense was there. It just didn’t happen in the net.
In the final 20 minutes alone, the Wildcats reeled off three excellent shots. One even caught Arkansas State keeper Megan McClure out of position. Another clanged off the post. All of them inspired disappointed groans from a desperate crowd.
In part, that’s why the loss of Davis leaves the Wildcats in a tricky spot. A junior who holds the school record with two game-winning goals, Davis figured to play an integral role in her team’s offensive attack, bringing a mix of athleticism and offensive acumen to the pitch.
Dibbini said he hoped Davis’ injury was “just a bruise or something,” and he didn’t offer any update on her status afterward. Still, that K-State forward Katie Cramer vowed to “sell out the rest of the year for her” says something about the way the team received the injury.
For now, K-State will forge its way forward without Davis.
“When we were in that huddle, we were just saying, ‘Let’s do it for Hannah, let’s do it for Hannah,” said K-State midfielder Brookelynn Entz, who assisted Davis’ 38th-minute goal with a nifty cross to the middle of the box. “On paper, they had the ‘W,’ but honestly, if I was watching this game, not seeing the score, I think we would win probably 5-0.”
The difference in the match: The Wildcats registered more shots, but the Red Wolves (1-1-0) capitalized on theirs.
The visitors’ two goals came courtesy of Hailey Furio, in the 27th minute, and Sophia Restrepo, in the 60th minute. The latter likely will be the one that haunts K-State before it returns to action Sunday afternoon.
It began when an Arkansas State player sent a long pass down toward the box, where a host of Wildcats and Red Wolves jumped to attempt to head the ball away.
The ball, though, fell to the ground without touching anybody. Restrepo realized it first. She turned around and chipped in the shot in the lower left corner of the net, catching K-State keeper Rachel Harris in a bad spot in a confusing sequence.
“We lost focus a little bit defensively on winning the first and second ball,” Dibbini said, “and defending that ball out of the air. That’s an area that we have to continue to work on. It’s tough when you lose players who played significant minutes last year back there, and you’re still trying to find the players who can come in and help us with it.”
Results aside, the game was the program’s first at the new Buser Family Park, which was constructed over the summer. But the hosts weren’t able to kick off the new era in winning fashion.
K-State will take take another swing at a home victory when it hosts South Dakota State at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“It was just a matter of one more extra pass or the ball inches away from going in,” Dibbini said. “We did everything to win that game. We just lacked a little bit of luck.”