Despite giving up four unanswered goals in the second half against St. Charles East on Thursday, West Chicago went into Friday night's nonconference match against Oswego feeling pretty good.
It took just 51 seconds before the Wildcats were feeling lousy.
Oswego junior forward Kesley Kraft scored in the opening minute and the Panthers edged the Wildcats 2-1.
"It's tough to start like that," West Chicago coach J. Cesar Gomez said. "We had a good team meeting to fix some stuff, and I thought we did, but then to give that one up so quickly, that really was rough."
It was almost as if Kraft caught the Wildcats by surprise.
"I got a through ball from Mikaela (Mockenhaupt) and they didn't step up to stop me," Kraft said. "It all happened very quickly. Yeah, I was surprised to get such a good quick shot."
Oswego (2-1-2) has had its own share of struggles, so it jumped on the chance of scoring immediately.
"We knew we had to come out strong," Kraft said. "To score like that was a big boost of confidence. It made us feel pretty good, and we just went hard the rest of the game."
The Panthers were all over West Chicago junior forward Kayla Kirkwood, throwing as many as three girls at her to keep her from making much of an impact on the offensive end.
"It gets frustrating, but I've learned that I just have to be patient," Kirkwood said "I would love to be able to score as often I would like, but I know it's going to take a total team effort. We're playing hard but just haven't found it yet."
Still, the Wildcats played their brand of soccer -- possession soccer -- frequently.
"We celebrate our progress and it's possession and doing things right," Gomez said. "We only used one sub tonight, so we showed we have the stamina, but we're still working on the mental part and sometimes we can be our biggest enemy."
Mockenhaupt's beautifully lofted goal with 28:48 remaining eluded West Chicago goalkeeper Gaby Navejas and gave the Panthers an insurance goal, one they needed after a hand ball resulted in Kirkwood converting a penalty kick with 12:16 left.
West Chicago (2-6-0) had a couple of solid chances to net the equalizer, including twice on excellent throw-ins from sophomore Marcy Gonzalez in the final two minutes, but they came up short.
"We definitely played well at times," Kirkwood said. "We've had some rough games, but we're still trying to turn things around and get better."