The two overtime losses the Wings have suffered early in their inaugural MISL season don't make their 0-3 record look any better, but their competitiveness in those games have them feeling as if a turnaround is near.
The Wings had leads in each of those losses and stayed with Missouri until the fourth quarter when the teams met in Kansas City a day after Missouri won the opener in Wichita. Wichita has obvious holes but the solution, according to coach LeBaron Hollimon, isn't far off.
"I'd say we're close," Hollimon said. "We're real close to breaking through. Even the (14-4 loss to Missouri) was close until we pulled our sixth attacker. The score didn't outline how close the game was. I'd like to think we're not far away at all."
Heading into tonight's home game against Baltimore at Hartman Arena, Wichita has allowed at least seven goals in every game. It's a manageable total, but one the Wings haven't been able to exceed because their offense has been inconsistent.
Jamar Beasley and Chile Farias give Wichita a pair of proven scorers, but around them is a group of inexperienced players still adapting to indoor soccer.
Wichita's defense is similar, with proven commodity Sanaldo Carvalho in goal and several youthful players blending in around him.
The Wings had a 9-5 lead at Milwaukee last weekend before allowing four straight goals that gave the Wave a 13-9 advantage. Those goals were accumulated in less than seven minutes and were indicative of Wichita's inability so far to capitalize on opportunities to pull away.
"I think concentration for the full game is the difference," Hollimon said. "Right now we're putting together pretty close to a full game, but then we have these lapses; three-, four-minute lapses, and we're playing against experienced teams that punish those lapses."
The inability to keep opponents from successfully playing from behind would seemingly fall on the defense, which allowed several leads to slip away in the opener.
The blame isn't squarely on that group, though. Wichita's attackers can improve their ball control and their play around the midfield to keep the ball away from opponents. The small indoor field means everyone has to contribute to defensive efforts.
"Moreso indoor than in outdoor, defense is not just about the defenders," Hollimon said. "It's a collective effort in the indoor game. I don't think it's fair to hang our defensive woes on defenders, because our team defense is a work in progress."
One-eighth of the Wings' season is over, which raises the sense of urgency for tonight's game against Baltimore. Hollimon isn't panicking because the Wings have been within striking distance in the second half of all of their games with chances to win two.
A win, Hollimon said, could create a snowball effect.
"My biggest thing is, I want my guys to experience a victory because they've been working so hard," he said. "I just want them to get validated for that hard work. That's what we're hoping for. Winning is a habit; unfortunately, so is losing, and that's what we don't want to make a habit."