Half an hour into the Thursday’s match at Hibner Stadium, Nebraska sophomore forward Abbey Schwarz side-saddled her defender and aimed for goal. It was the culmination of heavy possession and an aggressive game plan. There was nothing between the forward and her first goal of the season except Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey.
But the shot went directly into the arms of the sprawling Hisey. Schwarz leaned to the turf and punched the ground.
Nebraska’s first three matches of the year have all brought different outcomes. Two of them came with the weight of missed opportunities. The latest was a single lapse in defense that allowed Arizona to score on the breakaway and leave Lincoln with a 1-1 draw.
The Huskers played aggressive and attacked the ball, especially early. The tandem of Abbey Schwarz and Eleanor Dale up top caused Arizona to play from the back multiple times in the first 45. Arizona’s Hisey made three first-half saves in addition to playing with the ball at her feet.
Nebraska’s goal finally came in the second half on an own goal. A cross from Jordan Zade that was destined for Schwarz or Dale deflected off Arizona defender Sarah Rice and into the net. Zade, a full back, said the team likes to play with that aggression and attack the ball.
“Defense, we can win the ball through interceptions and play really aggressive so our offense can get behind the back line to get their opportunities, go one-v-one,” Zade said. “I think that mentality can carry over.”
Sarah Weber, having already opened her goal-scoring account for the season, also gave the Huskers some offensive power. None of them, however, scored on Thursday.
Nebraska played from behind in both of its first two games, falling behind 1-0 to both San Diego State and Oklahoma. On Thursday the Huskers were held scoreless in the first half for the third straight match despite seven shots — three on target.
At the same time, the Huskers couldn’t manufacture quality chances. Shots were either out of desperation or not convincingly struck on goal. Schwarz’s chance late in the first half was as good of a look as the team got but her shot went directly into the sprawling keeper.
“One thing for us is settling in and creating our own identity,” Schwarz said after the match. “I think sometimes it gets a little chaotic. For me, I have some experience, but it’s still just my second year so we’re trying to figure out from the older players to settle down and play our game.”
The Huskers waited over an hour of game time before forcing the opening goal.
Most of the Huskers conceded in the first three matches have been on breakaways. All of them came against the run of play.
Arizona’s goal on Thursday came with some build up but happened entirely by an opportunistic Sami Baytosh. She poked the ball free from the defender outside the box and took two dribbles. Nebraska goalkeeper Samantha Hauk rushed off her line but was beaten to the ball.
Hopes of the season’s first clean sheet ended when Baytosh’s one-on-one rocket found the back of the net.