TWU’s journey through the 2012 soccer season had been a pretty smooth ride up until last week when the road got a little bumpy for the Pioneers.
A three-game, five-day swing to Texas A&M-Commerce, Angelo State and Incarnate Word saw the Pioneers’ offense turn uncharacteristically quiet, getting outshot by all three opponents in a pair of shutout losses and a disheartening 3-2 overtime defeat.
“Yeah, I’m a little baffled myself,” said head coach Fleur Benatar, whose team went 3-0-1 in its four outings before the trip. “It’s a little disappointing.”
The overtime loss started the week last Wednesday in Commerce, where TWU fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in regulation before losing in overtime. It was one of those “we-let-it-get-away” games.
“It was a good game,” Benatar said. “We were down 2-0 and then came back and tied it up. They just hit a great shot to win it.”
Perhaps the bad taste of that defeat lingered into the weekend, when the Pioneers followed up with shutout losses to Angelo State and Incarnate Word. Prior to the weekend, TWU had only been held scoreless twice this season.
What’s more, the Pioneers’ offense seemed to dry up. The team had outshot opponents 169-130 before last week and owned an 81-55 advantage in shots-on-goal over their opponents. But in last week’s three outings, TWU was outshot 49-26 and held to a 23-15 disadvantage in shots on goal.
“The last four games were due to some poor communication on our back [defensive] line,” Benatar said. “[Opponents] had several breakaways and they capitalized on it. When they had their moments, they finished. When we had ours, we didn’t.”
Briefly … Against Texas A&M-Commerce, freshman defender Sara Deeb recorded her first career point with an assist in the 3-2 overtime loss. Deeb joins four other first-year freshmen who have contributed either a goal or assist to the Pioneers’ attack this season. Freshman forward Brittany Rogers has four points off a goal and two assists, while fellow freshman Haleigh Wanzer, a defender, has three points with a goal and assist. Sara Alvarez (one goal) and Cecily Martinez (one assist) have also produced points as rookies for the Pioneers this season.
Home sweet home
After playing three road games in five days last week, the Pioneers close out the regular season by getting to stay at home for three of their final five games.
“I’m glad to be home,” Benatar said. “Now we’ve just got to take care of business.”
TWU plays hot to West Texas A&M on Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Eastern New Mexico on Sunday (2 p.m.) at the TWU Soccer Field this week.
The Pioneers’ final home game is against Texas A&M-Commerce on Oct. 27.
Favorable home schedule
With a brutal first half of Lone Star Conference play behind them, the Pioneers must now shake off back-to-back losses on the road while looking forward to playing nine of their final 11 regular-season matches at home.
TWU (13-5, 7-3) returns home for only the second time in six weeks this weekend when it plays host to Incarnate Word (Friday, 5 p.m.) and Texas A&M-Kingsville (Saturday, 2 p.m.). To say the Pioneers will be glad to be back at Kitty Magee Arena would be stating the obvious.
For only the second time this season, the Pioneers dropped consecutive games last week, falling to No. 12-ranked Angelo State and Tarleton State, both by 3-1 scores. While TWU avoided getting swept — something that’s happened only once this year — the two losses contributed mightily to the Pioneers falling from first to fourth in this week’s LSC standings.
But the Pioneers have plenty of time to make up lost ground and have already proven to be overpowering when playing on their home floor. TWU is 5-1 at Kitty Magee Arena this season.
Junior outside hitter Josie Santos, who was named the LSC Offensive Player of the Week last week, continued to spark the Pioneers in their two losses. Against Angelo State, she registered a career-high 16 kills; the next day against Tarleton State she finished with her fourth consecutive double-double, racking up 15 kills and 17 digs.
Hall inductions Saturday
The softball season is still a few months away, but TWU’s 2012 Athletic Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony Saturday will definitely have a softball theme to it.
This year’s inductees include former softball players Teresa Flores and Jami Ingram, as well as the school’s 1979 softball team that won the AIAW national championship. The team is being inducted as the Hall’s first “Team of Distinction.”
Flores holds TWU career records for hits (237), triples (26) and RBIs (133) and was named a Louisville Slugger All-American in 2004 and twice selected to the All-South Central Region first team in 2002 and 2004.
Ingram was voted to the Louisville Slugger All-American list twice (2002, 2003), was named the Division II Diamond Catcher of the Year in 2003 and appeared on the all-region first team in 2002 and 2003.
The event is being held at Hubbard Hall on campus, beginning with a 5:30 p.m. reception followed by the banquet and induction ceremony at 6 p.m.
Workouts begin Monday
Basketball workouts begin Monday for the 2012-13 season, which will be Beth Jillson’s sixth campaign as the Pioneers head coach.
Jillson, who became the school’s all-time winningest coach last season, will be aiming TWU toward a fourth consecutive appearance in the Lone Star Conference tournament.
Last year the Pioneers finished 13-14 after advancing to the quarterfinals of the LSC tournament.
The Pioneers are scheduled to open the season Nov. 13 at Ouachita Baptist.