The first-half version of this story would have read a little more positive.
Nebraska outplayed the No. 18 team in the country for the first 45 minutes Friday night at Barbara Hibner Field. Outplayed, outclassed, out-possessed, out-shot, outscored. The Huskers had a 1-0 lead while dominating possession and nearly doubling up on scoring opportunities. Two mistakes in the second half meant the Huskers (3-1-1) left the pitch with a 2-1 loss to the Cougars (4-0) instead.
“Honestly, in the first half I thought we dominated them. I thought we were the more competitive team. We were generating everything in the first half,” center back Sinclaire Miramontez said after the game. “Second half they just came out firing and we needed to anticipate it better.”
The lone goal came when a Washington State defender conceded a penalty and midfielder Savanah Uveges buried it. She’s two-for-two on the season from the circle and the team’s leading goal-scorer; neither seemed to offer much joy to her postgame, though.
“I try not to overthink it,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s a little ball big goal. Just put it in the back of the net.”
In the first half, the Huskers had seven chances at goal with four looks on frame. The attempts stayed the same in the second half, but the efficiency dropped off. The end result eluded Nebraska all game.
“We had a lot of opportunities in the first half and I think we felt with the second half coming we had it and we were going to get the same opportunities,” Uveges said. “Then when those didn’t come, it bit us in the butt.”
The Cougars played a part in that, too. They had Nebraska on its heels more in the second 45 and pounced on Husker mistakes.
“Obviously [they] have watched a lot of film on us, they were trying to cut off myself and [keeper] Aubrei [Corder] so we couldn’t play back,” Miramontez said. “They really studied where our tendencies for passes are.”
Both Washington State goals came off of Husker giveaways in their defensive third.
“We let down for those two moments and that’s what decides the game right there,” Miramontez said. “We just can’t be taking plays off like that.”
The first happened when Uveges tried to center a ball and a Cougar intercepted right on the 25th-anniversary logo near midfield. The second giveaway happened in almost the exact same spot. Both came off Husker throw-ins. They were mistakes, yes, but they were correctable.
“Absolutely,” Uveges said. “Just keep our heads up and know where the pressure is. Definitely something we can change. It makes me feel better but still pretty bitter about how it ended up tonight.”
The message postgame from head coach John Walker was to stay the course. The next five matches come on the road (and seven of the next nine), but Nebraska’s issues have been largely self-inflicted. Next time out against Baylor on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT, the Huskers know what needs fixing.
“I think just staying locked in every single game, every single moment, every single play. I still think our chances are coming so it’s not that we need to change things on offense, it’s just we need to finish the play.
“Disappointing, we’ve got a lot to learn from it but we’ve got a game to look forward to this weekend. No hanging our heads, we’ve got to get back out there.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.