Preparing for their last game, the Lady Raider’s anticipated a win to finish their season. With an over-all record of 5-11 and a conference record of 2-8, the numbers were not in favor of the Raiders; however this did not change their outlook on the game facing Doane.
The Raiders and the Doane Tigers started the game physically. With good passing by the Tigers, Doane put three goals in the net by halftime; making the score 3-0.
“I guess we pushed through the half as best as we could, considering the circumstances, like playing on turf,” said junior Tiffany Giles. “We tried to work things out on the field and then we made the adjustments at half time and played better the second half.”
Making changes on the field during the second half the Raiders came out determined to finish the game strong. By playing aggressively and serving better, the Raiders had opportunities to score. However, the Tigers still put two more goals in the net, making it 5-0. Late in the second half, freshman Kim Zwiers was fouled in the penalty box, giving the Raiders another opportunity to score. Senior and captain Chrystan Fuller took the kick and scored the only goal of the game, making it 5-1.
“I think it was a good season, even though our record didn’t show success in wins and losses. We were successful in the things we were set out to do-like in how we changed the perception of the program, winning over fans and working as a team by playing the game the way we should; physically,” said Giles. “I think that the steps were taken this year that are necessary for us to move forward next year.”
The Lady Raiders ended their season with a 2-9 record in the GPAC and 5-12 overall. The team is very optimistic about next year’s season.
“I anticipate an overall great season next year because we know the system that we are playing, we know how each other plays and we know what coach expects of us. With the intense off-season training and the recruiting by Coach [Tom Cliff], big changes will happen,” said Giles. “I think that its just going to be an all together awesome year.”
Last Wednesday the Raider men traveled to Huron, S.D., to play their final regular season game. Even though the match wasn’t a conference game, the team was determined to win in order to improve their record and regional standings.
Starting the game, the Raider’s didn’t come off as strong as they had anticipated. With Huron scoring the only goal in the first half, the Raiders stepped up the level of play going into the second half.
“We started sketchy and struggled in the first half,” said senior and captain Eric Copeland. “The second half, with the wind at our back we gained momentum and different people stepped up and made some big plays. We also controlled the ball and moved off the ball pretty well, which gave openings in different areas.”
Tying the game up, sophomore Dan Swier put a shot past Huron’s keeper. Needing at least one more goal to win the game, the Raiders pushed hard to keep the ball out of their defensive half. Their chance came when the official made a call on Huron, giving the Raiders a free kick. Copeland took the kick and scored, giving the lead 2-1 for the Raiders.
“I feel like we played very well. We really stepped it up in the second half. I feel like the team rose to the challenge and had a good game. We played like a unit, very well and capitalized on goal scoring opportunities,” said sophomore Andrew Gunter. “Probably the biggest highlight was the second goal by Eric Copland off of a free kick.”
With seven minutes left in the game, Huron tied it up once again making the score 2-2. The game finished with a tied score taking it into overtime.
With a minute and a half into overtime, junior Ryan Hesse crossed the ball into the center. Finishing the cross, sophomore Dan DeWitt put in the third goal for the Raiders.
“[Once they tied it up] we knew that, besides scoring, we needed to at least hold them off from the getting another goal. And overtime-wise, our record hasn’t been that great, so scoring in overtime with a minute and a half into it was a pretty exciting,” said Copeland.
“Tonight was pretty big because it’s all about points when it comes to regionals. Huron is regionally ranked, so beating a regionally ranked team gives us points and is a pretty big deal,” added Copeland.
Making their record 12-5-1 overall, the Raiders are preparing for their first conference play off game on Saturday against Sioux Falls. They play at 2:00 p.m. on their home field and are anticipating a close aggressive game.
“I’m expecting our team to come out with quite a bit of intensity,” said Gunter. “We have a lot to prove in this game since we lost to them last game and I’m looking forward to playing well in the conference tournament.”