Oshkosh West soccer coach Greg Ruark didn’t unleash a fiery critique following Friday’s loss and he’s certainly not going to let fester over the weekend and affect the way practice is run when the team reunites on Monday.
Instead, like that scrap piece of paper and the end of a class, Ruark just wadded up the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fond du Lac on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium and chucked it in the recyclable bin.
“Sometimes you just go out there and fire blanks and we fired blanks tonight,” Ruark said of the loss that snapped the Wildcats’ six-game winning streak. “I said, ‘Let’s just get it out of our system now.’ The important thing is to learn from it and get better from it.
“I won’t see the girls until Monday and hopefully they will forget about it by then because I certainly will have. We have two important games next week against two of the top three teams in our conference so there are far more important things to worry about at this point.”
It wasn’t as if the Wildcats played horrible, either. West controlled possession for much of the game and allowed Fond du Lac only six shots in the contest.
Yet, the performance just wasn’t as sharp as it had been in Wildcats’ six-game run.
“It was a really tough loss. We’re all disappointed in ourselves. We didn’t have a very good game today,” senior Erika Spanbauer said. “I feel like we had more possession, had the possession a lot more, but (Fond du Lac) outworked us I feel like. We could have worked a lot harder to put it in the back of the net.”
And Spanbauer agreed that this loss won’t linger too long with the team.
“Take what we did wrong in this game and fix in practice on Monday. That’s the best way we can do it,” she said. “Personally, I feel like we had to get this game out of our system, to play bad and we’ll come back and get after Appleton North (on Tuesday).”
West had a couple of good scoring chances early on in the game, but were thwarted by the backline of the Fond du Lac defense before registering shots.
Then, on just their second shot of the game, the Cardinals got on the board when Kristina Konen’s lofted shot from distance sailed into the net in the 24th minute.
West tied the score about eight minutes later off a scramble from a Megan Wolff corner kick. Fond du Lac goalkeeper Brianna Hubbard lost control of the ball in all of the traffic and Kathryn Ruark was able to steer it into the net to give the Wildcats the momentum heading into halftime.
But less than four minutes into the second stanza, Fond du Lac’s Shelby Sabel beat West goalkeeper Olivia Angle to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, which would stand the rest of the way.
“I really felt like we gave up two soft goals, which is a little unusual for us,” Ruark said. “Our defending in our attacking third was soft and we were soft in the midfield. And then you hope when they get down there the defenders can bail everybody out and they can’t do that every single time.
“Our team defending in all thirds was as poor as it ha been since the first week of the season.”
Offensively, the Wildcats struggled as well. Not in possessing the ball, but generating scoring chances.
West outshout Fond du Lac 10-6, however, the Wildcats had been producing more shots — and better opportunities — over the course of the win streak.
“We didn’t create a lot of chances that were dangerous for their goalkeeper, where you really felt like their goalkeeper was threatened,” Ruark said. “One of our strengths that we had during the six-game winning streak we had was that we were able to get the ball (in the offensive end) and maintain some pressure and sustain the attack. And today we didn’t.
“The game was too much up and down the field and that doesn’t really agree with us.”
Notes: Angle finished with three saves for West. … The Wildcats will play at Appleton North on Tuesday before returning home to face Kimberly. Those two teams were a combined 10-1 heading into Friday’s games. … Sabel assisted on Konen’s goal, while Kelsey Schneider was credited with an assist on Sabel’s tally.
Game ball: Kathryn Ruark, for scoring West’s lone goal.
Numbers game: 2, the number of shots Fond du Lac had in the first half, however, one ended up in goal.
Fond du Lac…1 1 — 2
Oshkosh West…1 0 — 1
First half: FDL — Kristina Konen (Shelby Sabel), 23:02. OW — Kathryn Ruark, 31:18.
Second half: FDL — Sabel (Kelsey Schneider), 43:56.
Saves: FDL (Brianna Hubbard), 5, OW (Olivia Angle) 3.