On the hinges of a 14-game regular season win streak, No. 3 Fort Hays State men's soccer program edged out a 3-0 victory over Rockhurst on Thursday night.
Coming off of an MIAA Championship and their first appearance in the national semifinal, the Tigers and new head coach Gerry Cleary are now 1-0 on the regular season.
After a heartbreaking end to the 2018 campaign, the Tigers returned eight players who earned All-MIAA honors as well as National Player of the Year, Santiago Agudelo.
Joey McCain scored the opening goal of the 2019 campaign off of a corner kick that was fiercely grounded to his feet by Sergio Villalba. McCain took a pair of touches at the top of 18-yard box before striking it past goalkeeper Peter Baker's right hand side.
The Tigers led into halftime and sprung out of the gates swiftly. Arsenio Chamorro took a shot on goal in the 49th minute that was blocked in front of the net. Off of the block, the ball fell to find the feet of a streaking Villalba who tucked it away for the Tigers second goal of the game.
In the 75th minute, Fort Hays earned a throw-in just in front of the Rockhurst bench. Midfielder Ross Boyd reared back and fired the ball into the box and found the head of Alonso Rodriguez for the final goal of the night.
While the Tiger offense was firing in the opening night win, the defense also held a strong back line led by Moritz Walther and Alec Bevis who played the full 90 minutes. Senior goalkeeper Cullen Fisch made five saves and kept a clean sheet for the black and gold.
As a team, the home side took 23 shots and hit the target 11 times.
With the victory, Fort Hays State is now 2-2-2 All-Time against the two-time (2017-2018) preseason No. 3, Rockhurst.
The Tigers will be on the road for the first time in 2019 to take on Eastern New Mexico State on Sunday. In the four matches that these two sides have faced off, they have split the series with two victories a piece.
FHSU volleyball drops two in Nebraska
At Chadron, Neb., the Fort Hays State volleyball squad dropped a pair of matches to open the 2019 season Friday (Sept. 6), falling to Sioux Falls and Chadron State in straight sets.
The Tigers had a chance to pick up two wins Saturday and escape the weekend with a .500 record when they continue play in the 2019 Eagle Classic. They were set to play Montana State Billings and South Dakota School of Mines.
Sioux Falls 3, Fort Hays State 0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-16)
Fort Hays State opened the year against the Cougars of Sioux Falls, who came into the season receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll. The Tigers struggled to find a rhythm, posting a .125 attack percentage for the match while the Cougars countered with a .255 swing rate.
Morgan West led the team with eight kills and just one attack error on 16 swings, good for a .438 attack percentage. Katie Darnell tossed up 23 assists while Morgan Christiansen led the team with four blocks. Isabelle Reynolds dropped in the lone service ace for the Tigers.
The best offensive frame came in the second set for the Tigers, when they totaled nine kills and just three errors on 34 swings. Kasandra Springer paced the Cougars with 12 kills and three service aces.
Chadron State 3, Fort Hays State 0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-23)
The Tigers kept things close with host Chadron State in the night cap, but in all three sets the Eagles put together a run to secure the victory.
Fort Hays State recorded a .152 attack percentage in the loss, while giving up a .276 swing rate to the Eagles. Morgan West once again led the Tigers with nine kills, while Delaney Humm and Kayla Vitztum added seven kills each. Katie Darnell contributed 23 assists while Haley McCorkle provided a change of pace off the bench in the third set, adding four assists.
After dropping the first two sets, the Tigers seemed poised to extend the match after scoring the first four points of the third set. FHSU led by as many as 9-4 before the Eagles started to rally. Emily Ellis did her best to hold off the Eagle run, coming off the bench to record a big kill and a service ace on back-to-back rallies. After tying the score at 13-13, CSC took the lead for good at 17-16.
Tiger women's soccer falls in opener
At Sioux Falls, S.D., the Fort Hays State women's soccer team opened the 2019 season with a 2-0 road loss against Augustana Friday (Sept. 6).
The Vikings were aggressive from the opening whistle, frequently putting tension on the Tiger defense. Augustana put up six shots on goal in the first half. In the 32nd minute, Sylvia Fehr netted one for the Vikings off an assist from Baily Parsons. The Tigers continued to push, but the Viking defense suffocated their efforts quickly as the Tigers were only able to put six shots on goal in the match.
Fort Hays State came out with more energy in the second half as they looked to avenge the deficit. Their persistence in the box gave them an opportunity to tie the game in the 81st minute with a penalty kick. Reilly Madden lined up at the spot and aimed for the right of the net, but AU goalkeeper Claudia Pueschner made an incredible diving save to keep the Tigers out of the score column. In the 86th minute, Grace Behm put another goal in the net for the Vikings to solidify their 2-0 victory.
Senior goalkeeper Megan Kneefel (0-1) kept the Tigers alive, making eight saves and shutting down several attacking sprees by the Vikings. Claudia Pueschner (1-0) picked up the win after making six saves for the Vikings.
The Tigers took nine shots on the day, coming from nine different players. Augustana rifled off 19 shots in the win.
The Tigers look to pick up their first win of the season on Sunday (Sept. 8) when they take on the Cougars of Sioux Falls. Kickoff is slated for 12 p.m.