By: Brendan Zdunek – Staff Writer
After the Dayton’s women soccer team earned their first win on Sept. 4, the team took a trip west to play the University of Nebraska Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Omaha on Sept. 9 and 11, respectively. They lost 3-1 in Lincoln, but made up for it with a 2-1 win in Omaha, improving their record to 2-5-0.
“It’s all a work in progress. We’re not exactly happy with where we are but we see bits and pieces coming into things in terms of us developing as a team,” said head coach Mike Tucker. “We’re getting there but we’re not there yet.”
After the big first win of the season against Purdue, the tables turned on the Flyers when they played against Nebraska in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers had 13 shots, eight of which were on goal, while the Flyers had five shots, all of which were on goal.
Despite the shot discrepancy, the game was scoreless for most of the first half until the 42nd minute when Hayley Hanson of Nebraska broke the stalemate and scored on a header off a corner kick. Later, in the second half, junior forward Alexis Kiehl scored for the Flyers in the 66th minute to tie the game up 1-1. However, two late goals by Jaycie Johnson of Nebraska sealed a 3-1 victory for the Huskers.
In spite of the loss, the Flyers came back ready to play the Mavericks of Omaha. It was much more evenly matched as the Flyers and the Mavericks both had 14 shots and five shots on goal. Omaha struck first in the 9th minute with a goal by Carlie Cook. Early scoring has been a persistent problem for the Flyers defense throughout the season. But, in the end, it did not change the outcome.
Sophomore forward Sara Robertson scored in the 44th minute, tying the game for the Flyers on her first score of the season. Not long after, senior defender Libby Leedom scored the eventual game-winning goal on a header off a corner kick, giving the Flyers a 2-1 victory.
As of late, Leedom has really been stepping up for the team. She kicked the game-winning goal against Omaha and scored two goals in the win against Purdue. She even assisted on the lone goal for the Flyers in the Nebraska loss. However, she still thinks of herself modestly.
“I would say my role on the team is right now just kind of a glue player. I have scored a few goals but most of them have come from good buildup or good set pieces,” Leedom said in a recent interview. “I think it is more right place, right time in the moment and just staying calm and focused throughout so that I am in the right spots when the ball does get there.”
On the other hand, her coach certainly praises her more. “Libby is a key player for us, and she has to play well for us to do well,” Tucker said. “She’s a smart, smart player, she gets herself in the right position, and she’s a good finisher. But, along with that, in the middle of the field, she helps run the show in the attack and that’s probably where we’re seeing the most out of Libby.”
Looking to utilize Leedom’s leadership the team still has a long season ahead of them, and plenty to improve on, both Coach Tucker and Leedom agree on that.
“What you have to do is look at a process of getting better game to game with the goal to be hitting on all cylinders when you hit the A-10 play,” said Tucker.
“We realized early on that we need to be getting better every game and hopefully, be where we need to be by the time conference comes around,” Leedom said. “Right now, it seems like we’re on the right trajectory and we have been getting better. We’re just hoping that we can carry that into conference play and start getting more wins.”
Conference play kicks off Sept. 29 for the Flyers against the Saint Louis Billikens at Bajuan Field. With that in mind, it is time for the team to make sure everything is in order to truly turn the season around.