Sluggish Bulldogs squeeze past Northeast, 2-1

By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Sun

—  Maybe they’re just not morning people.

Maybe another cup of coffee or a big bowl of Wheaties might have kick-started the women who play soccer for Navarro College.

But for whatever the reason, the nationally-ranked Bulldogs looked sluggish and lethargic in their home opener Saturday morning against Northeast.

DSC_0092_cropSure, Navarro won, 2-1, but coach Debbie Bonner was anything but happy,

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Bonner after the game. “We have to get it together. We didn’t play as a team. We played as individuals, and that’s not going to get us very far.”

The Bulldogs have plans of going very, very far this season. The goal is to get back to the national title game and win it after finishing second in the nation a year ago.

Navarro is ranked No. 2 in the nation in the women’s soccer NJCAA national poll right behind Iowa Western, which beat Navarro for the title and is unbeaten this season.

The Bulldogs have already beaten No. 4 Laramie, 1-0, and they won the game in Wyoming, where they also tied nationally-ranked Butler 2-2. Butler scored with less than a minute in the game to knot forge the tie.

“We played today the way we played against Butler,” said Bonner, showing her displeasure.

Still, the Bulldogs improved to 3-0-1 by winning their conference opener and there’s plenty of time to tweak a team that is loaded with talent.

Navarro had its moments and it looked like the Bulldogs might blow Northeast off the field when Amanda Olson drove down the left side, made an inside move to slip by a defender and fired a shot past the goalkeeper four minutes into the game.

But the overall play slowed down after that and Northeast, which was unbeaten at 3-0 before Saturday, stayed close and tied things at 1-1 when Briana Diaz scored on a remarkable header from the right side of the net — a shot that sailed into the left corner with 23:04 left in the half.

Navarro All-American Trudi Carter got free just before halftime and went one-on-one with the Northeast goalkeeper. Carter going on-on-one with anyone is usually money in the back, and she cashed in with a shot that left Northeast helpless to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead with 35 seconds left in the half.

It stayed that way until the end. Navarro stepped the pace up during the last 10 minutes of the game and had some of its best opportunities of the day. Carter made a brilliant move and drove through traffic and then blasted a shot that sailed just high with seven minutes left, and Shanice Foster created a dangerous shot that just missed. But the Bulldogs simply didn’t look like the Bulldogs for most of the morning.

Bonner was furious for most of the game.

Navarro, which is usually fast with crisp passing and brilliant spacing and an in-you-face defense, was slow to the ball all morning, seemingly a step behind physically and mentally.

“They didn’t play to their ability,” Bonner said. “They kind of cruised today. That’s not acceptable. It was disappointing.”