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Girls Soccer: Ashley Bailey, Oswego remain optimistic after tough start

Panthers feel they're 'knocking at the door' after 1-0 loss to West Aurora

AURORA – Oswego still has not practiced on its home field this spring.

That’s how young the season still is right now for the Panthers, and how miserable the weather has been.

Friday proved to be a nice enough day for the Panthers to play again, but once again they were unable to convert any of their scoring chances, falling to West Aurora, 1-0.

Oswego (0-4) has been shut out three times, getting its only goal from Hanna Lee in Thursday’s 2-1 loss in the team’s Suburban Prairie Conference opener at Plainfield Central.

“We’re knocking on the door, knocking all around it and we just can’t seem to get in,” Oswego coach Kelsey Champion said. “We’re getting better every game. They’re doing everything I’m asking for them. We just need to put them in. One more step.”

Lee and Anaka Carlson had some scoring chances early against West Aurora. That seemingly went away as the game progressed, though, as the Blackhawks caught on to what they were trying to do.

“They threw a 4-5-1 at us and my girls have never see that formation so I think at first, that’s why they got those shots,” West Aurora coach Laura Wagley said. “Once we calmed down and figured it out, we were able to stop them and then Audrey (Stephens) getting the goal was a weight off our shoulders.”

Stephens scored in the 26th minute off of Gracie Prather’s corner kick to Sarah Alcala.

The Panthers were unable to clear it from Alcala, who got it to Stephens. The talented junior, who had scored 26 career goals coming into this season, pushed the ball forward before taking and converting her shot.

“Hat’s off to them,” Champion said. “We couldn’t capitalize. If the ball bounces a little differently for us, maybe that’s us today.”

The Blackhawks were playing at a major disadvantage due to a personnel shortage as four starters did not play. Prather missed the final few minutes of the first half and 20 minutes of the second half after getting shaken up.

Despite no success in the win column, Oswego isn’t in panic mode. Champion and her returning players knew before the season even started that it would take some time for this team to come together because of the addition of so many new faces.

They remain optimistic.

“Every game we’re getting better,” senior defender Ashley Bailey said. “We just need to keep shooting. I feel we’re almost there because we’re getting chances. Hopefully in our next game or two, we’ll win a game and start a winning streak.”

Players with little varsity experience, especially newcomers, could freak out as the losses mount, but that doesn’t appear to be happening here, as the girls are noting the progress they’re making.

“I know it’s been a struggle for us in connecting with other with new girls on the team, but by now we’re used to each other and can play off each other more,” junior defender Sophia Molina said. “We took a lot of shots which was good for us. In the first couple of games we didn’t do that much.”

The Panthers only game next week is on Thursday at Minooka. They will finally have their home opener, a conference game against Plainfield East, on April 2.

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