Defensive woes send women’s soccer spiraling with five left
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 21:10
The Plattsburgh State women’s soccer team limited its opponents to just eight goals in the team’s first 10 contests, keeping its offense in it each time.
However, the Lady Cardinals (5-8) have allowed eight goals in their last three games, doubling the number of goals allowed this season in less than a third of the time.
But the back four can’t take all the blame for allowing the goals. With a struggling offensive unit that has been unable to put consistent pressure on opposing defenses, the ball has found its way on the Lady Cards’ side of the field far more than the team would care for. PSUC head coach Karen Waterbury said team defense starts with the forwards, and the lack of offense has now begun to affect the way the defense has played by not putting consistent pressure on opposing teams in the offensive third of the field.
“We’re taking too many half-chances,” Waterbury said. “We’re not being patient enough in the attack to create the right scoring chances. We’re settling for an OK opportunity.”
With less time spent possessing the ball in the offensive third, the team has seen the ball more in the defensive third. That has created more opportunities for the opposition and teams have broken through thanks to opportunities like corner kicks, something the Lady Cards did not defend well against New Paltz last Friday. Two early corner kicks for the Hawks set up two goals, a deficit PSUC could not recover from.
“We didn’t take pride in defending the corner kicks, marking men and staying with them,” Waterbury said.
Waterbury said the Lady Cards are lacking someone who can capitalize on the scoring opportunities the team creates. While both Oneonta and New Paltz combined to have six players between them with four or more goals on the season, the Lady Cards have just one person with three goals: forward Renee Egan.
Egan said the team’s struggles have been primarily a product of struggling with the mental part of the game as the team has felt more pressure with the losses piling up.
“No one on our team is used to losing consistently,” Egan said. “For me, and for a lot of the girls, losing ... consistently is definitely a mental thing. We’re not going into games expecting to lose, but it’s like that fear is there because we have been.”
Waterbury agreed that the team’s confidence is a factor.
“When you lack confidence, you start to make other teams look better than they really are,” she said.
With a small margin for error, the defense has been under increasing pressure as the season has progressed. Defender Olivia Hopeck has been a large part of the defensive unit and said the forwards and midfielders must help out the defense for the team to be successful.
“I wouldn’t blame just the back four,” Hopeck said. “The defense counts as all 11 people on the team. ... We just didn’t have team defense.”
The Lady Cards must find a way to rebound after losing eight of their last nine contests if they plan to make the conference tournament. That starts this weekend when they host Fredonia Friday at 4 p.m. and Buffalo State Saturday at 1 p.m.
With four games to go, Waterbury is hopeful the team can learn from its mistakes this season and build on the strengths.
“As a coach, I’ve found that I’ve learned more from a loss than I’ve ever learned from a win,” Waterbury said. “I haven’t thrown it in yet.”