It could have been a different team in front at halftime, and the statistics paint a prettier picture than the scoreboard did Sunday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
But visiting Southern Illinois Edwardsville returned home with a 4-0 victory in nonconference women's college soccer as host Indiana State fell to 0-4 for the season.
Shots were virtually even, with the Sycamores recording a season-high 18 to 19 for the Cougars, and ISU had a 60-40 advantage in time of possession.
But early in each half the visitors tapped home rebound goals, then wrapped things up with a pair of individual efforts by Mackenzie Litzsinger in the last 18 minutes.
"Really disappointing," coach Julie Hanley agreed after the match, "especially in line of how well we played in our first three games.
"[SIUE's] goals were pretty soft, in our opinion," Hanley added, accompanied by her coaching staff. "This is not a good feeling."
After a quick cross into the box by the Cougars in the first minute of the match, the Sycamores were on the attack for awhile. Kate Face was wide with a pair of shots, the deflection of the second leading to a corner kick. A header off Jensen Margheim's corner kick went over the crossbar.
Then it was the Cougars' turn. A pair of attacks led to unsuccessful corners, then the Cougars played a long ball into the box. An artificial-turf bounce created some havoc, one shot hit the right post, and Emma Dutko was there for the tap-in and a 1-0 lead.
On its way to 12 shots — six on goal — for the first period, ISU went back on the attack. One extended sequence started by passes between Kathryn Besserman and Katie Sidloski was promising but produced only a shot wide of the goal, and in the 35th minute Sidloski got a shot off that was saved and Lindsey Anstine was able to direct a bouncing rebound toward the goal. SIUE keeper Bella Henderson had to leap to her right to keep the ball out of the upper corner of the net, and Henderson's tumble after the spectacular save resulted in an injury that sent her to the sidelines for the rest of the match.
"We created some opportunities," Hanley said. "A lot of our shots were from distance . . . but we were able to find some moments when we could be dangerous. Their keeper made a great save."
Again in the second period the visitors threatened early, but the Sycamores seemed to regain the advantage. Anna Holcombe created a shot that she lofted over Jensen Schoch, the new Cougar in goal, but it went inches wide of the right post. Shortly afterward Celeste Wahlberg drew a foul near the box, but Olivia Sharar's free kick went directly to Schoch.
Then, in the 12th minute, the Cougars' Andrea Frerker played a ball ahead to Taylor Dolt for a long run that resulted in a corner. A shot from distance by Alexis Royal was saved off the crossbar by Hannah Sullivan, but — deja vu — the ball dropped at the feet of Lily Schnieders for another tap-in.
"The first and second goals kind of demoralized our team a little bit," Hanley acknowledged. "[The Cougars] are a big team, physical . . . we just seemed to be a step late to everything."
Litzsinger did the rest. She stole the ball from a Sycamore and made a 30-yard run before scoring the third goal, then added the fourth on a shot that caromed in off the right post with a little over two minutes left.
ISU is back on the road this coming weekend, starting Friday at Central Michigan.
"We realize it's kind of a learning curve," said Hanley, whose lineup is peppered with youth, including five freshman starters, "but we have the pieces to be successful."
SIUE — Emma Dutko, 9:22
SIUE — Lily Schnieders, 57:01
SIUE — Mackenzie Litzsinger, 72:51
SIUE — Litzsinger (Ashlin West), 87:38
Shots (on goal) — SIUE 19-9 (Litzsinger 4-3, Dutko 4-1, Schnieders 3-1), ISU 18-8 (Kate Face 4-1, Jensen Margheim 3-2)
Corner kicks — SIUE 5, ISU 5.
Yellow card — Alise Emser (ISU)
Red card — Tara Hoffman (ISU)
Next — Indiana State (0-4) plays Friday at Central Michigan. SIUE (1-1-1) hosts Missouri State next Sunday.