Racers buckle under Bellarmine’s pressure

Kyra Ledbetter
Staff writer

Bellarmine Knights: 2
Murray State Racers: 1
Last weekend the Racers suffered their first home loss of the season to Bellarmine University, an early mile marker the Racers would just as soon forget.
Bellarmine’s Jessie York scored the first goal of the match just 9:30 in, leaving Murray State to trail for the remainder of the day.
To the Racers, the match ended in more than a loss. It represented significant steps backward in their game play.
“I think we came away completely from what we did in the last game against Troy,” Coach Beth Acreman said. “When we played Troy we definitely put the ball down. We were playing some quality soccer and then today it was way too busy on the field and way too many balls in the air. Obviously I’m telling the girls that they’ve got to come back to basics again.”
In fact, Acreman said that from Thursday’s match against Troy University to Saturday’s match against Bellarmine, the team completely reversed its style of play.
“They were completely opposite from Thursday to today.  It was a totally different style of soccer,” she said. “I don’t know if them scoring the goal first rattled us too much and then we went away from what we’re good at, but I was just disappointed with the level of soccer going on.”
Acreman’s team, however, is not quite so pessimistic.
“I feel good because the team is getting better as we get to know each other better, but after today it’s kind of difficult because we really wanted to win at home,” Jennelle Cunningham, junior defender, said. “But we live and we learn as coach always says. Next time we’ll be better.”
With nearly a week between their matches, Acreman plans to hammer home the basics in her freshmen heavy team.
“Just going back to what was working for us,” Acreman said. “We need to play some more possession, minimize the balls that are going up in the air, work on the players’ touch again and just continue to build from each game.”
In addition, Cunningham thinks the team should continue to work on finishing the shot, a stated problem in the Racers match against Troy.
“I’d like to see the team work on actually finishing the ball,” Cunningham said. “We had so many chances over the last two games. With the amount of shots we took, we should have at least half the amount of goals, but we’re not really finishing.”
Today the Racers are headed to Tampa, Fla., to play in the University of South Florida Tournament.
“We’re going to play College of Charleston and South Florida,” Acreman said. “They’ve got amazing facilities and they’re both going to be really good teams. I think the girls really need to pull together and do what works for us. They’re going to need to be up for the challenge.”
While Acreman sees the upcoming tournament as a chance to face off against tough competition, her team is hoping for revenge against USF.
“They’re going to level our athleticism,” Acreman said. “They’re going to be very organized. Everyone’s still at the beginning of their season so I’m sure they’re still trying to work things out like we are, but they’re definitely going to be very competitive.”
The returning players, however, remember all too well losing to USF at home just last year.
“I’m excited,” Cunningham said. “I’m ready to play USF again and beat them on their home field like they beat us. I’m ready to pay some revenge.”
Regardless of past matches, Acreman said she hopes the upcoming tournament will show the Racers what their level of play should look like this season and motivate them to work toward that goal.
“My goal is to get the girls to understand the level of play they need to be at consistently through the season,” Acreman said. “Like I say, every game we learn something as we go along.”
Murray State will return home to Cutchin Field at 3 p.m. Friday to take on Indiana State University.
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