Elite competition shows Lions what is lacking


Curtis Almeter | Contributer

Junior midfielder Kayla Gajewski fights for the ball during the Lions contest on Sept. 14, 2014 against East Central. The teams tied 3-3 after two overtimes.

Matt Barney, Sports Writer

The Missouri Southern Lions have fallen to 2-3-1 after suffering disappointing back-to-back losses on the road to Southwest Baptist and Northeastern State Universities last weekend. The team falls to 0-2 in the MIAA despite some promising efforts.  

The Lions faced tough competition in their opening weekend of conference play, going up against two of the top teams in the preseason rankings in second ranked SBU and No. 4 NSU.  SBU won the conference tournament last year and got the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats were coming off two big wins over top-25 opponents, while NSU finished second in the conference last year.

“We started off a little slow against SBU and they capitalized early, which put us in a hole,” said head coach Alese Woolard. “We fought back well, and we had several really good opportunities both the first and second half, but we couldn’t convert our chances. In both games we created some really good scoring opportunities, but couldn’t find the back of the net.”

The team allowed a combined six goals in both games while only netting one of their own.     

“Unfortunately, in both games, they were able to capitalize on our mistakes and we couldn’t capitalize on theirs,” she said.

“I personally am frustrated, and I think as a team we are frustrated,” said goalkeeper Beth Hammons. “We know our potential, and we know how good we can be, but we haven’t really shown it yet. We had our opportunities in both games and didn’t finish, and that is really what hurt us.”

The Lions’ lone goal of the weekend came from reigning MIAA offense player of the week forward Casey Vitale, who converted a penalty kick in the 79th minute against SBU.     

“I was disappointed in losing both games this weekend,” said Vitale. “We had numerous chances to score but couldn’t capitalize. Coming into this next week, we need to leave everything we have on the field and capitalize on our opportunities to score.”

Despite their losing streak, the Lions are confident they can get back on track when they return home on Sept. 25 against Nebraska–Kearney. The team spirit remains high, and they are all looking forward to getting back to their winning ways.

“We are all pretty pumped to play at home Thursday,” said forward Hannah Bomar.

“Since we are now in conference play, we really just need to keep our focus moving forward, and not dwell on the games this weekend,” said forward Kelsey Haist. “We still have a lot of games left and a lot of opportunities to surprise teams with what we are capable of.”