ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor men’s and women’s soccer teams completed a busy and disappointing week.
The Bluejay men dropped all three of their games, losing to Bethany 1-0, Friends 5-0, and Baker 6-1.
At Lindsborg, the Bluejays lost despite outplaying the Swedes.
“We should have won that game. We dominated,” coach Lincoln Wulf said. “But we just couldn’t score. We missed several scoring opportunities.”
Next up was Friends.
“We made some lineup changes trying to come up with some offense, but it was apparent we had people playing in positions they weren’t comfortable with,” Wulf said.
Tabor trailed 3-0 at half time, and Wulf said he readjusted his lineup yet again, but still lost 5-0.
“Right now our level of play is improving as a whole, but our level of intensity is slipping because we’re experiencing a lot of frustration,” Wulf said. “When we put it together, we play real attractive soccer, but it’s going to be that way all season.
“We’re just short on talent and depth.”
The Bluejays hosted Baker University, ranked No. 10 in the nation Saturday.
Tabor took an early lead when Jon Adrian scored and gave the Bluejays their first lead of the season.
Baker came back 10 minutes later to knot the score, and eventually scored six unanswered goals.
“We played pretty decent until they got up 2-1, and we had a letdown,” Wulf said. “We played well the last 10 minutes of the half, and held them scoreless in the second half.
“We played pretty smart, and actually should have scored again,” Wulf added. “It’s good to play a team like Baker, because it makes us better and it also shows us where we want to be in a couple years.”
Although the Bluejays remain winless, Wulf said he sees bright spots and individual leaders emerging.
“Jon Adrian has really stepped into a strong leadership role,” he said. “And Ryan Kelly has become a good leader on the field, as well as being a solid performer.”
Wulf also noted the play of junior Travis Bean.
“Travis is playing outside back and although he doesn’t come from a strong soccer background, he’s playing lights out soccer,” he said. “His understanding of the game has really come along and he’s picking the game up as he goes.”
Wulf said the three players mentioned basically comprise his defense.
“Even though the score isn’t reflecting it, our defense does a great job of limiting our opponents opportunities,” Wulf said. “We’re defending well in spite of some of the score we’ve given up.”
Wulf said “it’s going to be a process” to rebuild the soccer program at Tabor. He points to the time frame he was hired and the inability to recruit, the loss of seven seniors, and the loss of four other top players through transfer or other circumstances.
“We’ll need two solid years of recruiting,” he said. “Next year I think we’ll be a contender.
“In a couple years, I look for us to be in a championship game.”
The Tabor women began conference play with losses to Bethany, 2-1, and Friends, 1-0, then defeated Manhattan Christian College, 9-0.
At Lindsborg, Michelle Rink scored the lone Bluejay goal.
“It was definitely a win-able game,” assistant coach Mike Zollinger said. “Individually we had some good performances, but we just didn’t come out and play as a team.”
The same thing was true at Wichita, Zollinger said. Tabor could have won, and should have won.
“We thought they were better than Bethany, quicker than Bethany,” Zollinger said. “But we sat back and let Friends control the tempo instead of attacking.”
Monday, the Bluejays played host to Manhattan Christian, and came away with their first win of the season.
“This was a win we needed,” coach Dylan Pohlman said. “It was good to win after such a touch non-conference schedule.
“We hope it carries over into our conference games.”
Michelle Rink paced Tabor with four goals and two assists.
Also scoring for the Bluejays were Kathleen Stagg, who had two goals and two assists, Steph Stuber, with one goal and two assists, and Cady Stuever and Andrea Mendel, who each scored a goal.
Collecting assists were Porche Davis and Kandi Holland.
Pohlman said all indications are that his squad is finally beginning to believe in itself.
“From the first game of the season, I see a whole lot of improvement,” Pohlman said. “I see a lot more composure and a lot better attitude.
“This past week we’re a lot more aggressive and came to the ball better,” he added. “We’ve always known what to do, but recently our attitude and mentality has really improved.”
Pohlman said the tough early season schedule will pay dividends for the Bluejays down the road.
“Whatever these women have been through will help us be more aggressive and play with better intensity in the KCAC,” he said. “We just want to build off this win and the close games we had this past week.
“I don’t expect to lose another conference game this season, and I know the women have set goals and they don’t expect to lose another conference game either.”
The Tabor soccer teams are back in action Wednesday when they host Bethel. The women playing at 2 p.m. and the men at 4 p.m.