WATERLOO — The University of Northern Iowa Women’s Soccer team was rudely woken up from its dream season on Sunday afternoon at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, as Montana made a swift, two-goal comeback resulting in the Panther’s first loss of 2017, 2-1.
Sunday’s non-conference tilt started optimistically for Northern Iowa as Sydney Hayden received a pass from Hannah McDevitt ten minutes in and used mother nature to her advantage to lace a goal, providing a 1-0 Panther lead.
“I went into the slot and Hanna found me and I turned and looked for far post. I think the wind helped me a little bit and it curved in,”Hayden said of her second goal on the season.
The Panthers carried the lead through to halftime seeking their seventh shutout in a row.
However, the Girzzlies showed no intention of accepting second place. They equalized the score in the 55th minute when Alexa Coyle found Rita Lang alone in the UNI penalty area, leading to a calm finish by the Montana freshman.
It took 595 minutes for the Panthers to even concede a goal on the season. Sunday, in less than five minutes, they faced their first deficit.
Off of a corner kick, Lang fed Raye Burton who took a glorious strike that UNI goalkeeper Jamie Reichenberger had no chance to save, putting the Griz ahead 2-1 with 32 minutes left.
“The second goal was great, that was a great strike and if that’s the goal we’re going to lose on then all hats off to them,” said Northern Iowa head coach Bruce Erickson.
The Panthers were unable to comeback from the five minute jolt, ending in their fall season’s first loss. UNI was also set back by an injury in the 71st minute to Marianne Gagne which Erickson found a bright side to.
“I think that five minutes actually helped us that she (Gagne) was being tended to on the field just because at that point they were really putting us on our heels but it hurt not having her on the field there too,” Erickson said. “But she’ll be alright she’s a tough kid.
“We don’t just want to look at that we gave up two goals today because we’ve been spotless so far and that’s unreal,” added Erickson. “You never like to lose but there is some validity to it happening and now knowing how you want to respond. The first thing that has to be going through their heads has to be a good response and a good week of training. If that’s good that’s a good indication of how we’re going to do.”
The message of resilience from Erickson was well received by Hayden after the match.
“I think that we all know that this game really challenged us and we still worked hard through it all so we’re just looking to keep our heads up this week and come out strong and win the next one,” she said.
Northern Iowa (6-1) will get their first chance to respond Friday in Dekalb, Ill. in a non-conference tilt with Northern Illinois.