Midwestern State had two tasks in mind in its exhibition opener against NCAA Division II powerhouse Hardin-Simmons.
The Mustangs looked to stay organized and work for a positive result for first-year coach Damian Clarke.
The achieved both in battling the Cowgirls to a 1-1 draw at the MSU Soccer Field.
"We played a very good team and found a way to get a result and led for most of the game. That's a positive," Clarke said.
A big part of the positives came from sophomore Lizzie Navarette, who made the jump to left back after showing strong play early on last season in the midfield before suffering a season-ending injury.
"Lizzie was one of the best players on the field. I am super happy with what she did," Clarke said. "We made a great effort to keep the ball which is what we've tried to do and stay organized in our block of eight. I thought the back four and midfield four did a good job of staying organized and was difficult to break down. All in all, I am happy."
Her play added to an already strong back line joining junior Alexandria Edwards and sophomores Katie Huff and Haley Britton.
But the midfield also made solid contributions as Katy Catney accounted for the lone goal for MSU in the 31st minute. The senior from Wichita Falls drilled a free kick into the upper portion of the net from 35 yards out to give the Mustangs the 1-0 advantage.
"What an unbelievable hit," Clarke said. "It was nice to get the goal because we haven't got to the forward piece of how our system is going to work, so those girls have been left out, but we will add to that."
Hardin-Simmons scored the equalizer on a ball played down the left wing and centered into the box in the 73rd minute but the Mustangs would hold on for a 5-4 shots on goal advantage to take the draw.
"We wanted to keep the ball, but there were some scary moments when gave the ball away in some spaces but you don't learn how to deal with that pressure unless you do it," Clarke said. "We're lacking some fitness. I think once we get there, the team will grow a bunch."
Midwestern State opens the regular season against Colorado Mesa Thursday, Sept. 4 in Durango, Colo. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
Midwestern State received a tough test from a strong NAIA side in its exhibition opener Wednesday night at the MSU Soccer Field.
Wayland Baptist tallied goals in the 22nd and 89th minutes to come away with a 2-1 result just three days into fall drills for the Mustangs.
"It's disappointing," MSU coach Doug Elder said. "I didn't think we created enough chances in the first half. I thought some of our younger players played average. They didn't play bad, but did they play as well as I thought they were going to? No. That's growing pains and that's them adjusting to the speed of play in the college game."
The Pioneers scored on a through ball in the center of the field in the 22nd minute then caught the keeper out of the box on the right wing to net the game winner in the closing minutes.
In between, MSU received help from familiar faces to make a strong run at the equalizer.
Junior midfielder Ben Clarvis made a run down the left wing and delivered an accurate cross to the center of the box in the 81st minute, but senior forward Len Smith's one-timer was saved by the keeper.
Minutes later, Smith spun a short pass resulting from a mis-struck shot that found senior Kalen Ryden to the score at 1-1.
"We saw some positive things and we did create some chances, but a lot of the guys couldn't create a rhythm playing just 45 minutes," Elder said. "In the second half, we put in a few of our returners and they created some chances."
Overall, the Mustangs held a 7-4 edge in shots on goal.
"Lenny (Smith) and Albert (Rodriguez) did OK at the top creating some things," Elder said. "We played all right in certain areas, but no one played particularly well. That's probably why we got the result we did."