After back-to-back losses against the only two Power 5 teams on its non-conference schedule, Kansas State soccer is back at .500 (4-4-0) on the season.
The Wildcats dropped consecutive contests to Big Ten foes Purdue (on the road) and Indiana (at home).
Now, K-State has one more non-conference match before Big 12 play arrives.
That comes Sunday, when K-State welcomes Texas-Rio Grande Valley (4-4-1) for a matchup at 1 p.m. at Buser Family Park.
“This is a really important game for us,” head coach Mike Dibbini said.
“To work on the last pieces to help us improve, especially in attack. Can we get a lot of shots off? Can we get a better efficiency on shots on goal? I feel like we are going to have a lot of opportunities. It is just a matter of can we execute them.”
In the setbacks to Purdue and Indiana, K-State didn’t score in either match.
Purdue scored once in the first half, while Indiana put three in the back of the net in the opening 45 minutes.
Although K-State had chances to strike first, it couldn’t convert.
“I definitely think we had chances (score goals early),” junior forward Marisa Weichel said. “(Indiana) is a really good team. It just did not go our way.”
“(Indiana) scoring three goals in the first half gave them the momentum — whoever scores the first goal, you get momentum from that. That is sometimes a big factor in the game: who scores first.”
Jumping out to early leads has been the key component for success for the Wildcats this season.
“If we can get on the board first, that is going to be really important,” Dibbini said. “We are a confidence team. We are really good when we score first. That is the one thing I recognize about our team.”
Senior midfielder Brookelynn Entz said the game against UTRGV is a winnable match, and could do wonders for the team’s mindset if it boasts a winning record heading into conference play.
“We know this game on Sunday is a game we should win,” Entz said. “We really want to get that confidence before going into conference play. I think we learned a lot of these past two losses. (Purdue and Indiana) were good teams, and they showed us our weaknesses. We were able to grow and get better from that. I think that it really prepared us for conference, and we are ready to go in and win some games.”
Dibbini said that although the numbers might favor his team, the Vaqueros are a sound squad.
“(UTRGV) is very comfortable with the ball, a very technical team, like to play the ball a lot to their feet,” he said. “(They’re a) possession-oriented team. Their record is a little deceiving. They took a big loss to Texas last week. (UTRGV) is nothing to overlook. We just need to be ready to go.”
As K-State hasn’t managed a goal in its last three outings, Weichel said the team’s preparation right now centers around remaining positive.
“We just need to continue to work together,” she said. “Our coaches have told us what we need to work on, and we just need to apply those things to this weekend, and I think we will put ourselves in a good situation.”