Sept. 20, 2012
Von Mende and ‘Cats take on rival Griffons
By David Boyce
When Northwest Missouri State women’s soccer team goes on the road Friday to rival Missouri Western for another tough MIAA game away from the Bearcat Pitch, junior Tori Von Mende only has to look back to a week ago to get a good vibe.
The Bearcats fell behind 2-nil in their conference opener at Lindenwood on Sept. 14.
In soccer that’s a huge deficit, especially on the road. The home team can simply buckle down on defense and make it difficult for the opponent to get good scoring opportunities in the box.
Northwest coach Tracy Hoza asked her team to play with conviction and keep the ball on the ground.
The Bearcats responded. First, freshman defender Elizabeth Lee assisted on Von Mende’s first goal.
In a 12-minute span, from the 61st minute to the 73rd minute, Von Mende scored three goals, otherwise known as a hat trick, to help Northwest to a MIAA-opener 3-2 victory.
“I could not have done it without the team, obviously,” Von Mende said. “Being able to help come from behind 2-0 to win 3-2 was an amazing feeling, especially being on turf and under the lights. Some of my family was actually there to see it. Seeing them cheer me on was really a good feeling.”
Hoza praised the play of outside midfielders Jordan Albright, Anna Calgaard and the play of freshman Chelsea Fournier, who assisted on the last goal.
“The whole team played fantastic,” Hoza said.
Unfortunately, the Bearcats were unable to build on the thrilling win. Two days later, they lost 3-0 at Truman, which has won five straight.
“It’s weird,” Von Mende said. “We are always behind. The other team scores first. We always seem to come back even though we weren’t able to come back against Truman. Most of our games the other team scores first and we either come back to win it or tie it. We are getting a little too comfortable with that. Hopefully, we don’t let that happen again.”
On Sept. 6, Northwest fell behind 3-0 at Wayne State and roared back to a 4-3 overtime win.
As for the loss at Truman, Von Mende refused to use the excuse that they were tired mentally and physically from the game at Lindenwood.
“In all fairness, Truman played well,” Hoza said. “Should it have been a 3-nil game, I’m not sure. They had us on our heels in the first half. We had them on their heels in the second half. The second half we played very well. We had them under pressure.
“That second game of the week is always a tough one, especially on the road. We have to get used to that in conference.”
Four more times this season, Northwest will play conference games on Friday and Sunday. Von Mende said playing games so close together is OK.
“It wasn’t too bad this last weekend,” Von Mende said. “We had a couple of bruises here and there, but other than that, it wasn’t bad. We get good rest at the hotel. We have been in season long enough that we are used to playing every day.”
This week, Northwest only has to concentrate on Missouri Western. Although it is early in conference play, each game is vital. Eight of the 13 teams advance to the conference tournament.
Northwest, 3-2-1 overall and Missouri Western, 3-3, are currently locked in a four-way tie for sixth at 1-1.
“This game is very important because we want to set a tone with all the teams,” Von Mende said. “Hopefully, we can come out and get another win and show everybody that we really want this and we really want to make it to the conference tournament again this year.”
The Bearcats know they can count on Von Mende for offense, particularly when they are behind. Von Mende has scored six goals so far this season.
Von Mende is quick to point out that she has plenty of help. So far, nine players have scored at least one goal, including three by Fournier.
“We don’t have just one person who can score on this team,” she said. “We have numerous people who have already scored. In six games, we have had more people who have scored than all of last year. It is nice to have other people who can score, especially freshmen, too.
“We all work really well together. I enjoy that, too.”
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