Oct. 19, 2011
Bearcats and Jennies meet in pivotal MIAA match
Nearly a month ago, Northwest Missouri State women’s soccer team lost 4-0 to Central Missouri at the Bearcat Pitch in a nonconference game.
The result suggests a nearly impossible task for the Bearcats in Thursday’s rematch at Central Missouri in a game that will count in the MIAA standings.
The Jennies, ranked No. 10 in NCAA Division II, are 13-1 overall and 5-0 in the MIAA.
But Northwest, 8-3-2 and 5-1, have several components in its makeup that give the Bearcats every reason to believe they can pull out a win.
The Bearcats have a strong senior class and solid players off the bench to keep the energy on the field at a high level.
One player who fits nicely in both categories is senior forward Erica Hatcher.
“She’s always the player we go to from the bench,” senior defender Jacque Dedovesh said. “She comes out and gives us some fresh legs and gives us some speed and aggression. She puts the most pressure on defense to get the other team kind of rattled and get the ball moving so we can get into a scoring position.”
Hatcher has been in the program for four years and has experienced the up of when Northwest won a school-record of 11 games in 2009.
Hatcher has also experienced the low when Northwest dipped to 3-10-5 last season.
“We learned you need to work hard,” Hatcher said. “We just kind of gave up after awhile last year. We didn’t work as hard as we could. We learned you can’t give up. You have to work hard and it pays off.”
Perhaps better equipped than any other player on the team to handle change, Hatcher is able to adapt to varying situations. Hatcher grew up in a military family, which meant a lot of traveling.
Hatcher spent her first three years in high school in Colorado Springs. Her senior year of high school was in Hawaii.
“The moving part isn’t bad. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known,” Hatcher said. “It makes it easier to make new friends and meet new people. I have to be a little bit outgoing.”
When it came to picking a college, Hatcher wanted to be close to at least one person she knew well. It’s one of the reason she picked Northwest. Her older brother played on the football team.
While majoring in Elementary Education, Hatcher has accepted whatever role that has been given to her. As a freshman, Hatcher saw action in five games. She only got on the field once as a sophomore.
Last year, Hatcher played in all 18 games and so far this season she has seen action in 10 of 13 games.
Hard-working seniors who have back-up roles like Hatcher rub off on incoming freshmen and other new players.
The Bearcats started this year with plenty of newcomers. In fact, more than half the team is composed of first-year players for Northwest.
“I knew we were going to be better from when I met the 11 new players,” Dedovesh said. “They have put in so much work from day one of preseason to where we have gotten today.
“Every game all the players have put their heart on their sleeves and given their best to make this program as good as it can be.”
It’s that mentality that has allowed Northwest to bounce back from its worst loss of the year _ 4-0 to Central Missouri on Sept. 2 _ and win five of its last six games.
“You just have to put it behind you and realize we are a lot better team than that game,” Hatcher said. “It’s over. You can’t do anything about it but continue to work hard and learn from it and move on.
“You look over tape, obviously, and look at what we had to change. We obviously changed it since we are doing so well.”
After Central Missouri, the Bearcats conclude the home portion of their schedule Saturday with a game against Lindenwood at noon. The seniors will be honored before the game.
The Bearcats finish their regular season next week on the road with contests against Missouri Southern and Southwest Baptist.
“It is a pretty big week,” Hatcher said.
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