Murray State soccer swept the state of Alabama in its final non-conference games of the season over the weekend at Cutchin Field.
After starting the season 0-5, the Racers defeated Alabama A&M (0-9-1) 5-0 for their first win of the season Friday afternoon. Senior defender Veronika Pribyslavsk led Murray State to victory with the ninth hat trick in school history.
Pribyslavsk put the Racers on the board six minutes into the game as she took junior midfielder Shauna Wicker’s pass and beat the Lady Bulldog’s goalkeeper near post. She would score again in the 78th minute and finish off her hat trick five minutes later.
Wicker netted her first goal of the season in the 47th minute after a corner kick from freshman forward Jenna Finke. Freshman forward Megg Hudson scored her second career goal as well.
“Obviously for us it’s something we’ve been fighting for since the beginning of the season,” said Head Coach Beth Acreman. “We’re happy to see a lot of the young ones score goals and then obviously one of our seniors scoring a hat trick is just really great to see.”
The Racer defense shined in the contest, only allowing one shot the entire game. Freshman goalkeeper Latesha Stevenson earned her first start, win and shut–out of her career against the Lady Bulldogs.
The Racers added to their success by defeating Southern Alabama (5-4-1) Sunday afternoon.
Freshman forward Taylor Stevens was the hero for the Racers as she put away her first career goal with 1.3 seconds left in overtime giving her team their second win and a weekend sweep.
“We were just fighting it out (in overtime),” Stevens said. “We got it in the corner and it was just bouncing around and everything and I just struck it and it went in the net. No one really knew that it went in.”
Stevens received a pass from Hudson inside the box and blasted it into the back of the net as the clock struck zero. When the ball hit the back of the net the crowd, players and coaches for both teams were stunned and confused. It got quiet on the field for a few long seconds then the Murray State bench and fans erupted in celebration when they realized the goal counted.
“I was like, ‘did it go in’?” Wickers said. “I think the fans were even confused; we were all like, ‘what just happened’? We were all so excited to get that win and go into overtime and play hard.”
Acreman said it was a great momentum boost going into OVC play and it showed the team’s mental toughness.
“We’re just trying to get them to understand you’ve got to fight for 90 minutes and going into an extra time game and getting that goal was really pretty big,” Acreman said. “It showed that we are mentally tough enough now to withstand what’s coming in the OVC.”
Stevenson recorded her second career start, win and shut–out against the Jaguars and a career high in saves with seven.
The Racers also swept the OVC Player of the Week awards announced Tuesday. Pribyslavsk won offensive player of the week, freshman defender Halle Pinkman won defender of the week and Stevenson received goalkeeper of the week. Stevens was named College Sports Madness’ OVC Player of the Week for her overtime game–winning goal.
Murray State begins OVC play Sept. 23 as it hits the road to visit Austin Peay. Kick off is 1 p.m. The game is the first of three road OVC games for the Racers; they will return home Oct. 5 to face Belmont.
Story by Nick Dolan, Staff writer