By: Matt Olson, Copy Editor
The TWU Pioneer soccer team lost its match against the West Texas A&M Lady Buffs last Friday but managed an incredible win during double overtime in its weekend match against the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds. As listed on the TWU Athletics website, The Pioneers’ current record is 6-4-2 overall and 2-2-1 in the Lone Star Conference.
The Oct. 9 game saw the Pioneers and the Lady Buffs squaring off head-to-head for the first half, with the West Texas A&M team managing only one goal. The Pioneers had more shots on the goal than their rivals but were unable to make any into the net.
Head soccer coach Babak Abouzar said in an interview: “I don’t think that was one of the better games from our midfield. They’re really the lynchpin between our defense and our forwards, and we just felt that their fluidity of passes, their movement off the ball, their winning the 50-50 balls in the air wasn’t up to the level they normally play. When they’re not on, it adds more work for our defenders. When we put our backs under pressure, sooner or later the other team might be successful, and I think that’s what happened on Friday night.”
He added: “A big issue was also that one of our starting midfielders [sophomore education major] Megan [Coppedge] was out due to injury. Whenever you have a player of her caliber not be able to play, it can have an effect on the team.”
The loss on Friday pushed the team for its win on Sunday. The first half of the game resulted in no scores on either side, but both teams took several shots. The Greyhounds scored their first goal in the last 20 minutes of the game, and Pioneers’ forward senior Natalia Diaz scored the team’s first goal shortly thereafter. The game continued into two overtime periods, which ended when junior forward and midfielder Gabby Larson scored on the Greyhounds’ goal.
Abouzar said on the game: “I think that Sunday the midfield did a better job and responded well, and people stepped up in [Coppedge’s] absence. I think that’s what we need to do. We need to have that ‘next man up’ mentality.”
Abouzar spoke on how the team planned to go forward in the season: “A lot of the planning has to do with what we did well and what we can improve on moving forward and also limiting what we know that our opponent does well. We know that Commerce is a very physical, aggressive, direct team; they look to get the ball up quick and play the ball a lot in the air. For us, we have to work on being able to combat that and winning those 50-50 balls, not letting them dictate the game.”
He added: “In practice, we really focused on our midfield and being able to play through them. We want them to win 50-50 balls and be aggressive and go into that workmanlike mentality. They did a really good job today. We want them to continue moving forward through practice and to the game on Thursday, when it really matters.”