“Who’s it going to be? Who’s going to be the hero of DePauw?”
Head coach Megan McCormick’s words rang throughout Reavis Stadium after first-year Katie Koopman netted Hanover’s second goal of the first half against the Tigers in their season-opener Tuesday evening.
Despite the defense’s success in keeping Hanover scoreless for the rest of the game, no one on the offensive side of things was able to play hero for the Tigers, and DePauw was shut out 2-0.
“Overall, the game we played was not DePauw soccer,” said senior forward and team captain Stephanie Martin.
Whether it was nerves, a lack of confidence or the task off shaking the rust off, the Tigers never seemed able to get comfortable.
“The entire 90 minutes was just really disjointed,” said McCormick. “There was just not a lot of cohesion from line to line. We never really settled into any sort of rhythm.”
Through the first 25 minutes, both teams showed flashes of dominance, but neither was able to finish when they neared the opposing goal post.
Hanover’s first major breakthrough came with less than 20 minutes to play in the first half when junior forward Elaine Simpson put the Panthers up 1-0 off an assist from junior Anna Cornacchione.
Koopman’s goal came with just over six minutes left in the half, digging the Tigers an even deeper hole.
Though their efforts were in vain, the Tigers’ play in the second half was closer to the way they hope to play down the stretch.
“We understood that playing a panicked, direct style of play would not work,” said junior defender Jennifer Dimos. “We began to keep the ball, allowing ourselves more opportunites on goal, and preventing them from getting another goal from counterattack.”
“I don’t think we gave up on ourselves or imploded,” she said. “In the second half, we didn’t give the ball away in those dangerous spots in our defensive third of the field.”
The defense was led by junior goalkeeper Riley Riordan, who made seven saves in the losing effort.
DePauw’s offense, however, was held back throughout the entirety of the game, as they only managed to get two shots on goal compared to Hanover’s nine.
“It just wasn’t where we should be,” said Martin. “But we can only go forward from here. We are very capable of being a really good team, we just have to get it together and play like we know.”
While it’s only the first game of the season, Tuesday’s loss will make this weekend’s games against Kalamazaoo and Calvin at Bloomington even more critical if the team hopes to avoid a slow start, something that came back to haunt them last season.