When it comes to the 2019 Nebraska soccer team, one thing is clear — the Huskers are significantly better than their 1-3-1 record indicates. As the team’s non-conference slate wraps up, Nebraska has an opportunity to get its record to .500 before Big Ten play begins as the Oklahoma Sooners and the Gonzaga Bulldogs visit Barbara Hibner Stadium this weekend.
The two matches will conclude the Huskers’ difficult non-conference schedule, which is part of the reason why Nebraska has only won one game this season. The team’s first five matches were against teams that participated in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, meaning this weekend marks the first time the Huskers will not line up against a team that participated in last year’s tournament.
Despite the early season tests, Nebraska is playing at a higher level than its record indicates. One thing that has been consistent in all of the Huskers’ matches this season is the ability to create chances. Nebraska has 71 total shots through six games — an average of 11.8 per game. In that same time frame, Nebraska’s opponents have managed just 51.
So what gives? The answer is simple. Nebraska’s opponents are taking advantage of their chances, and Nebraska is not. The Huskers have been scored on 10 times this season and have scored three times. Senior defender Sinclaire Miramontez scored two of those goals in back-to-back games against Baylor and Long Beach State.
While it’s nice to see Miramontez contribute offensively, Nebraska cannot go through the season with its center back leading the team in scoring. In order to come away with two victories this weekend, Nebraska’s forwards need to be more consistent and finish their opportunities.
This means that freshman Emma Marcus and redshirt freshman Adriana Maldonado need to have big weekends leading the Husker attack. Nebraska will also look for senior Savanah Uveges to play more this weekend after playing just 24 minutes against Long Beach State and missing last Sunday’s contest against USC entirely. If she is unable to play, Nebraska’s forward depth will be tested.
Unlike Nebraska, the Oklahoma Sooners (4-1-1) have had great production from their forwards this season. Senior Kaylee Dao, scorer of the fourth-most goals in Sooner history, leads the team with six goals this season. Dao, a preseason All-Big 12 nominee, looks to lead OU’s attack against a defense susceptible to the counter-attack.
The Sooners also have several new faces in comparison to last year’s squad. This offseason, Oklahoma welcomed 16 new players into the program — 13 freshmen and three transfers. Nebraska will look to take advantage of the Sooners’ inexperience and come out with a victory.
Sunday’s game against Gonzaga (4-2), features another matchup against a strong offense. The Bulldogs are led by a pair of freshmen forwards in Lauren Elwer and Erin Healy. Both have scored four goals — tied for the team high through the first four games. Nebraska will also need to slow down redshirt senior India Jencks, who is tied for second place in the West Coast Conference with three assists.
The Bulldogs also have a steady presence between the posts in redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Isabel Jones. Jones’ stellar game on Sept. 5 against No. 17 Washington State helped her earn the nod, as she recorded seven saves in Gonzaga’s 1-0 overtime loss. Jones has 16 saves on the season.
Friday’s match with Oklahoma is at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday’s tilt with Gonzaga is at 1:05 p.m. Both games will be streamed on BTN+. Sunday’s matchup against Gonzaga features a $1 admission special.