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Plagued by injuries, Lakeland's women's soccer squad fought a tough battle against Ripon College in their home opener on Wednesday evening, resulting in a 2-0 loss.
The Muskies were forced to do without the services of senior captain Tracy Bins and freshmen Leslie Oskey and Gina Weiss, who are out with injuries. In addition, a few other players were fighting through some aches and pains incurred at their opening tournament in Indiana this past weekend.
"We were still trying to get the weekend out of our legs," said head coach Dave Madsen. "I give full credit to the girls. We were down in numbers, but they fought hard the whole way."
After a scoreless first half the Muskies came out firing for a goal, hassling the Red Hawks' defense and goalkeeper with multiple attacks within a few minutes.
Sophomore Amy Christenson saw one of the best chances of the game, but was unable to convert as the ball sailed wide of the goal. Another favorable chance came off of a corner kick by freshman Jessica Hopfinger that crossed the goal mouth perfectly, but no one was able to get a foot on the ball.
"At the beginning of the second half we were doing well and came out strong," Madsen said. "We had plenty of chances to score, but their keeper made some great saves and we just couldn't convert."
The 0-0 tie was finally broken by Ripon in the 79th minute on a high shot by Jill Jones just out of reach of goalkeeper Alli Weiss.
As time wound down the Muskies made a last-ditch effort to tie the score, sending all of their players onto Ripon's side of the field. This strategy left Weiss alone at midfield with no defenders to come to her aid.
With less than two minutes left to play, an unlucky string of events led to an open breakaway by Ripon for Jones' second goal, sealing the game.
While Madsen was encouraged by the effort his team put forth, he would very much like to see what would result from a complete game of solid play.
"The last three games have been identical in coming out slow," he said. "If we could come out strong it would really help us get a hold of the game right away. I'd like to see what would happen if we could put together a full game because I don't think we would get beat, and if we did I would still be happy with it."
The Muskies will look to record their first win of the season on Saturday, September 9 against Northland Baptist on their home field at 1 p.m.