It wasn’t the prettiest performance of the season but the Kansas Wesleyan women’s soccer team did what it had to do Wednesday night.
Kayla Deaver (SR/Lee’s Summit, Mo.)’s goal in the 61st minute propelled the Coyotes to a hard-fought 1-0 Kansas Conference victory over a stubborn Saint Mary team at JRI Stadium in the Graves Family Sports Complex. KWU improved to 5-5 overall with its fifth consecutive victory and remains tied for the top spot in the KCAC with a 5-0 record.
The performance reminded coach Henrik Sohn of a old adage from his native Germany.
“We have a saying that a good horse only jumps as high as it needs to,” he said. “That’s what we did today, we jumped as high as we needed to get the (win) and we’re just happy.”
The Coyotes dominated from start to finish. They had 20 shots (10 on goal) compared to Saint Mary’s two shot but couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities until Deaver broke through on an assist from Precious Nwosu (SO/Goleta, Calif.).
Deaver scored from in front of the goal, the ball finding the back of the net top right. It was her team-best ninth goal of the season. She had seven shots in the game and Nwosu four.
“Usually if you don’t use your opportunities, it will bite you in the butt,” Sohn said, “but we got lucky today and it didn’t. We should have scored more and we need to work on our efficiency with the shots.”
After an 0-5 start to the season the Coyotes have found their stride.
“The difference between then and now is mental toughness,” Sohn said. “It’s a tough conference, you have to earn every win. Nothing will be handed to you. We’re in a good spot in the conference (standings) and I’m really proud of the ladies for the way we fought and the way we handled everything.”
“It was tough in the beginning of the season but I think we’ve done a lot of work to get to where we are now,” defender Isabella Anderson (FR/Las Vegas, Nev.) said. “I think the team has started to really come together. We had to get through those growing pains and now I’m really proud that we’re coming together as a team and everyone’s having each other’s backs.”
Anderson has performed well since moving into the starting lineup.
“We have a couple of ladies who are hurt and we hope they’re okay for Saturday (against Avila at JRI Stadium),” Sohn said. “We have freshmen starting. Isabella has been playing a lot of minutes and (defender) Hannah Castro has stepped in too. A lot of newcomers played today and are learning the system and what it takes to be successful in the KCAC.”
Anderson said college soccer is vastly different from what she’d been playing.
“It’s a lot different than high school and club for sure,” she said. “It’s competitive, every game is like a championship game. You have to go hard 110 percent every day.
“It’s been an adjustment but I think I’ve done well so far. Definitely having a team and people around helps me feel it’s possible. It’s built like a family.”
The Coyotes play Avila at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles (2-6-4, 2-3-1 KCAC) lost to unbeaten conference leader and No. 7-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan 12-0 Wednesday in Bartlesville, Okla.