By Corbin McGuire
K-State soccer junior Brookelynn Entz related her two-match, four-point outing in Oklahoma last weekend to an analogy assistant coach Kat Benton shared with her earlier this season.
“You know when you lose your keys and you’re scrambling all over the place, you can’t find them anywhere, and then you sit down on the couch and you find them like that? That’s what (I needed) to do. Just relax,” Entz said. “That was what (Benton) used to relate it to just relaxing on the field, not worrying about anything and just letting it come.”
Entz did so last weekend.
She notched a goal and an assist against Oklahoma, which K-State lost to in overtime, 3-2. The Newton native added a go-ahead assist against Oklahoma State in an eventual 2-1 loss.
“I’m the type of player that plays better when I’m relaxed, just free and having fun,” Entz said. “That’s when I play my best, not when I’m putting pressure on myself to have a certain amount of goals or assists or whatever, but just playing free and having fun out there.”
Entz said the weekend showed that K-State, which hosts Iowa State on Friday at 7 p.m., is on the verge of a breakout win. The Wildcats twice held a lead against Oklahoma, No. 55 in the RPI, and led Oklahoma State, No. 31 in the RPI and now No. 18 in the coaches’ poll, for more than 20 minutes.
“We’re, literally, right there,” Entz said, emphatically.
A big reason why? K-State head coach Mike Dibbini said it’s the way Entz is managing the team.
“There are a lot of things that are really good with our players all improving and our team’s really improving in so many areas, but a key part to our attack, especially, has been Brookelynn Entz, as far as getting touches on the ball and getting a rhythm for us,” said Dibbini, before pointing out progress from other key players like Bailey Nemechek, Shae Turner, Silke Bonnen, Katie Cramer and Laramie Hall, just to start. “They’re all part of it, but as far as the driver, the person managing it, you can see that Brookelynn Entz is doing a good job of impacting the game.”
All season, Entz has been learning to drive this Wildcat offense a little differently.
As a freshman and sophomore, she relied heavily on her creative footwork and skill with the ball to try to manufacture goals herself. She led the team in goals (5) and points (11) as a freshman. She tied for the team lead in goals (2) last season and finished second in assists (2).
This season, Entz has settled into a more facilitative role that utilizes those same strengths to help create more opportunities for her teammates. Her four assists thus far are more than her career total coming into the season. Even her goal against Oklahoma, which was her first of the season, came from a penalty kick.
“It does feel a little different,” Entz, who’s tied for or holds 15 program records, said. “I think everybody has noticed it, too, because I’ve always kind of been the one scoring goals and wanting to score goals, but I feel like this year I’ve been focusing more on creating those chances and getting us out of the back, really just playmaking, and just getting the ball to my feet, getting it out and then trying to help the team more, overall, instead of being individual.”
Entz said it took some time to adjust to this type of role. Two years, in fact. This season, she turned the corner in embracing it.
“I feel like it’s taken me two years, to do it and get in that rhythm and not focus on my goals and my stats but more on the team and how we can do better, collectively,” she said. “I feel like that’s shown this year.”
In K-State’s first five matches this season, Entz fired off 30 shots. In the seven matches since — she did not play in the BYU match — she’s taken 21. K-State’s offensive production, however, has increased slightly as her shots decreased. Against tougher competition, K-State has averaged one goal a game in its last seven with Entz in the lineup, after producing five goals in six matches to open the season.
“She’s a manager of the game. She’s a playmaker. She leads us with assists,” Dibbini said. “She’s getting everybody involved.”
“He’s been urging me to play like this, this season especially, because he feels like we have a really solid group of girls and we can all contribute equally and we can rely on each other,” Entz added. “I think that’s what’s changed a lot, is this group. I can trust everybody on the team, and I trust them when I pass them the ball and I trust them to make the right play.”
Source: Kansas State Sports