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SPOTLIGHT
Tiger women move to 2-1

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Tiger women move to 2-1

Published on -9/6/2012, 11:41 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

In the preseason, Fort Hays State University women's soccer coach Craig Shaw said improving the team's defense was a focal point.

After Fort Hays' 6-0 shutout against McPherson College on Wednesday, the Tigers now have gone three regular season games without allowing an opponent to score on them, and counting their last exhibition match, the Tigers have gone four matches without allowing a goal.

FHSU (2-1) suffered one loss, but it was because the Tigers surrendered an own goal.

"That was huge for us," Shaw said. "That was something we really had to fix from last year was the defense."

Against McPherson (0-1-1) on Wednesday at the FHSU Soccer Stadium, the Tigers were dominant.

FHSU put on the pressure early and never let up.

Senior forward Sade Humphrey scored in the opening minute, receiving a pass from freshman midfielder Alexis Aiman and beating the keeper from the left side of the goal.

Freshman forward Kylie Watson, who made her first start for an injured Joanne Glynn (MCL strain), scored the second goal in the 16th minute, kicking it into the top of the net after receiving a pass from Bethany Keefer.

It was Watson's second goal of the season. She scored the game winner in overtime against Colorado State University-Pueblo.

"For a freshman who saw zero minutes against Colorado Springs, to come in her second game, get some minutes and score a goal, she worked herself into a starting role from no minutes at all," Shaw said.

After those two early goals, FHSU struggled to find scoring opportunities late in the first half, but opened up the scoring again early in the second half.

Aiman scored on a penalty kick in the 47th minute, and Aiman scored off a cross from Humphrey in the 54th minute.

Humphrey created problems for McPherson all evening, using her speed and athleticism to dash past Bulldog defenders.

"This is probably the best I've seen her play for the past year or so," Shaw said of Humphrey's performance.

"She really had a great practice session yesterday and continued it today. It's exciting to see her play the way we know she can play."

Sophomore midfielder Margaret Meier scored off a rebound inside the box in the 76th minute, and freshman forward Jordan Hester shot it at the approaching goalkeeper and then kicked in her own rebound in the 86th minute for FHSU's final goal.

"(McPherson is) a good team," Shaw said.

"They always finish in the top three in their conference. I think athletically today, we were a little bit faster."

Though they weren't pressured much Wednesday, the Tigers' defense has been strong early in the season.

Sophomore defender Jamie Babyak said she believes the Tigers' back line has gotten faster with the additions of some freshmen.

"I think we are a lot faster than we were," Babyak said. "Our positioning and knowing when to step and drop has gotten better. We've done a lot of shadow play. I think that helps a lot."

Babyak said she believes the team's defense as a whole also has improved -- not just the back line. She said the team has focused on funneling their opponents to the middle of the field.

"We believe if we control the midfield, then we can win the game," Babyak said.

The Tigers will play Midland University at 6 p.m. Friday at the FHSU Soccer Stadium.

Midland University, an NAIA school, is a team that will be faster than some of the Tigers' previous opponents, Shaw said.

"We want to increase our speed of play," Shaw said. "They are going to be a little bit faster and a little more athletic. We won't have much time on the ball. We've got to really focus on moving the ball a lot quicker and moving off the ball a lot quicker."

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