On the first weekend of the women’s soccer season, the Lady Comets weren’t supposed to be in mid-season form.
Somebody forgot to tell Natalie Taylor.
Taylor, a junior forward, netted three goals and two assists in shutout wins over Oklahoma Baptist (OBU) and St. Gregory’s Sept. 4-5.
“She’s a really fit, fast, skillful, aggressive player who knows how to play the game,” Head Coach John Antonisse said, calling Taylor an athletically dominant player.
Taylor deflected the attention, saying although the scorers get recognized, it takes a solid team effort to win games.
“As a team we played very well together. The defense was very organized and we all stepped up and played,” she said.
Sophomore forward Tiffany Knoblach punched in a goal -the first of five in the second half – and UTD never looked back.
When the dust had settled, UTD had outscored its overmatched opponent 6-0 by virtue of a 32-5 shots-on-goal edge.
“One-zero was a deceiving score,” Antonisse said about the halftime margin. “We were dominating, and in the second half we put away our chances. We wore them down like we did St. Gregory’s,”
Against St. Gregory’s, Taylor scored twice and assisted on a third goal, as UTD won 3-0.
In the season opener, it took a furious late-game rally for the Comets to fend off NAIA opponent Northwood. Down 2-1, UTD tied the game in the last minute of regulation with a goal off the foot of freshman midfielder Mallorie Lamping.
Antonisse said he felt his squad played better all game, but it took a strategy adjustment – pushing more players forward – to tie the score.
UTD iced the victory in the second overtime period when junior Jessica Beachey’s header found the back of the net.
“We dominated and knew we shouldn’t be in overtime, but we won a game we were supposed to win,” Antonisse said.
The 3-0 start to open the season quickly soured as the Lady Comets dropped their next two contests at home.
Senior goalkeeper Katie Johnson held Division III powerhouse Trinity scoreless through regulation before allowing a goal in the second overtime minute Sept. 10.
“The strategy against Trinity was to do what we do best – play good, organized soccer and not be intimidated,” Antonisse said.
The next day, UTD failed to generate any offense against Southwestern, falling 1-0. The Comets dominated the first half and outshot Southwestern 15-11, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Southwestern struck in the 73rd minute, getting on the board with a breakaway goal.
“We didn’t show up to play (against Southwestern), and we lost to a team that was not as good as we were,” Antonisse said.
Although the first five games of the season were all non-conference matches, Antonisse called them “very important.”
“We learn something about our team during the early games,” he said. “We proved we could play.”