It was a heartwrenching loss for the Knox College women’s soccer team on Sunday, Oct. 21, as the Beloit Buccaneers notched a goal in the 85th minute of the match to top the Prairie Fire 3-2 on Senior Day.
Freshman Abby Jackson connected for a goal in the 84th minute to even the score at 2-2, but just 48 seconds later, Beloit’s Kirsten Takaki broke the tie and sealed the win for the Buccaneers.
Takaki’s goal was the third off a free kick for the Buccaneers, a fact not lost on head coach Melissa Joseph.
“I think we had a great game, but we typically do not have that many fouls called against us, so it was a tough break,” Joseph said. “We want the team to play aggressively, but we don’t want to give up fouls in shooting range.”
Knox committed 13 fouls to Beloit’s six, leaving the Prairie Fire playing from behind throughout most of the game. After falling behind 1-0, Knox evened the score via sophomore Chiedza Tapfumaneyi in the 22nd minute. The goal was Tapfumaneyi’s second of the year.
“It shows a lot of character to keep playing and fight back. Having them score with just five minutes left was pretty heartbreaking.” Joseph said.
The result was even more disappointing, considering the efforts of seniors Arielle Dorman and Sam Thomas. Dorman assisted on both goals, which gives her 100 career points with one game to go. Joseph found Dorman’s Senior Day performance fitting considering her team attitude.
“[Dorman] does get the stats, but she really is a team player,” Joseph said. “She goes hard every practice and every game, and it has never been about her. It’s her senior day and she gets two assists: she creates the opportunities for the other players to score.”
As for Thomas, the senior from Algonquin, Ill. continues to be a stable presence in the back line of defense, a position that, though unsung, has provided direction to a young team.
“[Thomas] really has been a leader for this team. She has been a three year captain, having earned being a captain her sophomore year, which speaks to her character and skill,” Joseph said.
Thomas had earned her first captaincy despite being red-shirted with an injury her freshman season, something that motivated her to play even harder.
“I really felt like I had to make the remaining three years count,” Thomas said.
Thomas also mentioned she was pleased with the team’s performance despite the loss, and that the program has changed significantly for the better since she arrived.
“We’ve prided ourselves on playing the full 90 minutes, and we left it all on the field,” she said. “We’ve come a long way since my freshman year, when we only had 10 people to begin with.”
Knox still has one more home game remaining this season as they take on St. Norbert on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Jorge Prats Field.
Joseph stated she has had the team work more intensely on the defensive side of the ball this week in order to address the free kick issues, while also preaching improved offensive possession.
“We’re in a formation that should lead to a lot of shots, but we are still getting outshot by other teams,” Joseph said.
Thomas believes the team can take a lot away from their 1-0 loss to second-place Grinnell earlier this season and use it in the game against a tough Green Knight squad.
“We haven’t won a conference game yet, but our game against Grinnell shows we can compete with the top dogs,” Joseph said.