Taylor women’s soccer came up just short on Saturday, Oct. 3 against No. 14 Grace College. The Trojans surrendered an early goal that ended up being the difference in the 1-0 contest that dropped Taylor to 4-3 on the year and 3-3 within the Crossroads League.
The loss came after a dominating 5-1 performance against the University of Saint Francis on Sept. 30.
“In the Saint Francis game we were able to keep possession and move the ball, and find openings to get shots,” Head Coach Scott Stan said. “And while we’d get shots against Grace and even hit the crossbar once, we probably only had two or three really good scoring opportunities.”
Taylor out-shot Grace 12-9 in the game, with junior Erin Teevans leading the team with 4. Teevans fired the shot that hit the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining in the first half, and after the early Grace goal from Victoria Lucido, it was the Trojans’ best chance to even the game up.
For a team looking to break through and get another win against a nationally-ranked opponent, after defeating Mount Vernon, the outcome was particularly frustrating.
“I thought we played very very well and were still on the short end,” Stan said of the loss. “(Grace’s) defense is very organized and knows how to take things way. They’re really patient and look for very good scoring opportunities.”
The Lancers connected on many more passes than Taylor and were able to keep the Trojans at bay throughout the contest.
Stan mentioned about the poise of the Grace team and their patience as being particularly hard to deal with.
The defensive battle, while frustrating, showed some of the positives of this Trojan team. Despite not being able to breakthrough, the defense kept Grace from getting into a rhythm and gave Taylor a chance.
Freshman goalie Hannah Brackenbury has stepped into her role, and helped lead an effective defense.
“From day one Hannah has really stepped into that role,” junior Kate Kortenhoeven said. “She’s had a huge presence on our team, which says a lot about who she is and her ability. Our defense is able to encourage and lead from the back.”
Against St. Francis, the purple and gold were able to capitalize on mistakes and punish their opponent, controlling the ball on their opponent’s side for much of the match. Five different Trojans scored a goal, and Taylor fired an impressive 43 shots and 27 shots on goal in the match.
Junior Riley Massey, sophomore AC Hardy, junior Ali Clodgo and senior Hannah Martinez all scored their first goals of the season in the matchup with Saint Francis. Junior Linli Tu scored her fourth goal, bringing her to a tie for the team lead with Teevans.
For a team hoping to get back into the national tournament and break into the national rankings, these final conference games will be crucial to the Trojans. While they barely missed an opportunity for a signature win against Grace, other opportunities remain.
Spring Arbor University, Marian University and Mount Vernon all remain on the schedule and are all either ranked or receiving votes for national polls.
“(The loss to Grace) can be discouraging, but we’ve talked a lot about shifting that mindset,” Kortenhoeven said. “These games can be building blocks for us, and allow us to grow. It can propel us to want and crave that nationals experience. We played well, which can empower us, but there are also things we need to work on more and figure out how to do well.”
After a match with Goshen on Saturday, Taylor’s next matchup will come against No. 24 Spring Arbor on Wednesday.