Tiger kickers stymied after slow first half

Sunday, September 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:10 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

A halftime pep talk couldn’t overcome a sluggish start for the MU soccer team Friday night.

The Tigers lost 2-1 to Wisconsin at the Nike Tiger Invitational, with junior Jennifer Nobis scoring her third goal of the season.

After a slow first half, the Tigers came out aggressively in the second, keeping the ball on Wisconsin’s half of the field for most of the period. The Badgers led 2-0 after the first half.

“We were very passive,” said coach Bryan Blitz. “We had such a slow start. For us to reach our potential, we can’t do that. We’re way better than that.”

MU had trouble on defense, and freshman goalie Laura Buehrig saw two shots go by her. The first was by Wisconsin sophomore midfielder Kara Kabellis off of an assist by junior Amy Vermeulen, who scored Wisconsin’s second goal to bring the score to 2-0.

“We just came out angry,” said senior Kristen Heil. “We’re a better team than this and we should have done better in the first half and in the entire game, and we just came out in the second half and played our game.”

The Tigers emerged from the locker room in the second half and began playing more aggressively. Senior Karen Bauer moved from defender to midfield and sophomore Elyse Nikonchuk made the move too. While Heil said the changes allowed the team to better move the ball to the middle , Blitz and others credit the team’s improvement to an attitude change.

“We went down to their level and they just worked it around us,” said Nobis. “Second half we got a pretty good talk in the locker room and just kinda hit us like, ‘Wow this is not our game that we’re playing.’ ”

Blitz said he told the team to have a little pride in their game and to remember that it was more aggressive than it was showing. He said he also reminded the players that they were playing for their home crowd and that they had to be more aggressive.

MU had many more offensive opportunities and ended the game with 19 shots compared with Wisconsin’s eight. Nobis finally scored off a corner kick, giving her three goals in as many games.

The momentum MU brought into the second half was not enough to overcome the dismal play of the first half, and the Tigers fell to a Big 10 team once again. They hope to avoid making the same mistake Sunday when they play the University of Iowa at 1:30 p.m. at Audrey Walton Soccer Complex.

“This game is definitely going to be a motivator for us,” said junior Erica Pusch. “We definitely learned from our first half, and we can look back and evaluate how we played this game and we know we can play so much better. If we just put the effort that we did in the second half into the entire game, I think we’ll be great.”

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