ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — For its first 45 minutes, Sunday afternoon’s match between Lindenwood and Emporia State was a defensive deadlock. Two minutes into the second half, Hornet freshman Mackenzie Dimarco helped shift that dynamic, scoring her first collegiate goal and putting her team in front in what was a 1-0 victory for ESU.
“We knew at halftime it could be one (goal) that wins it and it was,” ESU head coach Bryan Sailer said. “I felt like neither team had a ton of chances, but we got through. It was a great play by Gaby (Crowell) and Mackenzie to get free. Once she gets by you, she’s gone, she’s fast (and) she can put the ball away. Hopefully it triggers her to be that threat that we need her to be.”
The freshman, who finished her high school career with the second most goals in Missouri state history got ahead of her defender after being fed from Crowell along the sideline. Her only obstacle from there was Lindenwood’s keeper, who came out aggressively in an attempt to stifle the shot. Dimarco aimed right, rolling it into the vacant net.
“(We) just got it to our left wing and Gaby ... held it and played it at the right time and I got it past the defenders,” she said.
ESU spent much of the second half on the Lions’ side of the field, though Lindenwood failed to capitalize on a pair of corner kicks, including one with less than a minute remaining.
“We bent, but didn’t break,” Sailer said. “I felt like we were more organized today as a team (than on Friday). In the last game, we were kind of out of sorts. It takes time and we’ll become more organized as we go.”
Sophomore Jillian Patton recorded four saves and overall the Hornets outshot the Lions, 9-5.
“We came in prepared and we knew what we were getting ourselves into,” Dimarco said. “After the first game, we kind of knew how each other played, so slowly getting used to each other and becoming better as a team.”
It was the first of what Sailer hopes will be many scoring chances for the Pleasant Hill, Mo., native.
“Goal scorers like her are hard to find, (but) it’s even harder to score at this level,” he said. “She knows ... she’s got to work harder. It’s not going to come as easy. Through hard work, persistence, it’ll come. That’s what she had today.”