The Murray State soccer team had a disappointing open to its season, losing both games at home last weekend, Now the focus on gaining experience for young players and getting healthy.
The Racers (0-2-0) faced off against Arkansas State (2-1-0) in game one of the home stand. However, an 87-minute goal by sophomore midfielder Jena Kelley broke the 0-0 tie and gave the Red Wolves their first road win. The goal was assisted by sophomore forward Christina Fink off a corner kick.
Murray State possessed the ball well in the first half and played aggressive defense only giving up three shots. It seemed the Racers netted the first goal of the game halfway through the first but it was overturned due to offsides.
Head Coach Beth Acreman said the team fought hard all game, but lack of depth and execution on offense was the difference.
“I think it was a hard-fought 90-minute game, especially for us because we have limited subs,” Acreman said. “I think the girls worked hard; we just missed a couple of opportunities in
the second half that we have to do a better job with.”
Acreman said the Racers are relying on many young players to play significant minutes and be crucial pieces of the game plan early on.
“My three center midfielders played all 90 minutes…and did a really nice job for us,” Acreman said. “Racheal Foxley(midfielder) and Taylor Stevens(midfielder), they’re both freshmen and then Shauna Wicker(forward), those three really worked hard for us today.”
Murray State took to the pitch again two days later against the Purple Aces of Evansville (1-2-0), and started five freshmen and a sixth came off the bench.
The Racers competed well but gave up two goals within two minutes of each other in the first half and couldn’t recover.
The first goal came in the 24th minute when freshman forward Kayla Smith found the back of the net for her first goal of the season. Senior forward Kristen Davis followed up quickly for the Purple Aces in the 26th minute with a goal assisted by freshman Abby Springer.
Murray State gave up 10 shots in the first frame and 19 during the game. The Racers offense couldn’t break through the Purple Aces backfield, recording only three shots on goal for the game.
Freshman defender Halle Pinkman said the lack of communication on defense led to the disappointing outcome.
“There was a mix-up on defense and we lost our marks,” Pinkman said. “We want that W, that home win-but sadly we didn’t get it.”
Acreman said she is disappointed with the results of the first two games but is happy with her team and the young players’ development.
“I’m not pleased with the losses this weekend obviously, but I’m pleased with the way the girls are competing out there,” Acreman said. “It’s not easy out there; it’s not easy to play 90 minutes as freshmen, but at the end of the day they’re going to get a ton of experience and probably appreciate this in the long run. We’ve given some congratulations to some freshmen today that have shown, come OVC time, they are going to be absolutely ready to go.”
Sophomore midfielder Julie Mooney, leading goal scorer from last season, and captain Jenelle Cunningham are both sidelined due to injury.
Acreman said Mooney is expected back by the end of September but there is no word on Cunningham.
The Racers return to action today at 3 p.m.
at Western Michigan and come back at 1 p.m. Sept. 9 at Cutchin Field to face Northern Kentucky.
Story by Nick Dolan//Contributing Writer