Two game weekend split ends OVC hopes

Junior midfielder Jillian Russell dribbles in a game against Tennessee Tech. || Taylor McStoots/Contributing Photographer

The Murray State soccer team played a pair of must-win games this past weekend at Cutchin Field. The team ended up splitting the home series and was eliminated from title contention for the first time since 2006.

On Oct. 20, the Racers won in thrilling fashion, defeating Jacksonville State in overtime to improve their chances of making the postseason.

The Gamecocks were ahead of the Racers for the 6th and final spot in the OVC standings.

Freshman forward Megg Hudson scored first for the Racers in the 49th minute, when she headed in freshman forward Racheal Foxley’s pass. The Gamecocks wouldn’t go quietly though, scoring with just three minutes left in the game off a corner kick which pushed the game into extra time.

“I told the girls, to close out a game you have to have the ball, and we gave away the ball way too much,” Head Coach Beth Acreman said. “It wasn’t a problem the whole game, but in the last 10 minutes we looked rattled.”

The Racers came out in over-time and took control of possession, only giving up one shot and getting off six in the same span. Senior defender Veronika Pribyslavsk scored the team-leading 7th goal and 3rd game winning goal of the season with just a minute left in the overtime period, giving the Racers their second overtime win this season.

“We knew we had to win the game,” Pribyslavsk said. “We went into the first overtime with the thought of ‘We know we have to win.’ We had a lot of scoring opportunities and my goal was kind of lucky. Now we’re just focusing on the game on Sunday and we’re going into it with the thought that we need to win it.”

With a crucial win behind them, the Racers moved on to play their second game of the weekend Sunday, Oct. 21, afternoon against Tennessee Tech.

Again, Murray State struck first in the 22nd minute. Sophomore midfielder Julie Mooney dribbled past three Golden Eagle defenders and ripped a shot into the lower right hand corner of the net, beating the keeper her first of the season.

The Racers had trouble defending against the Tennessee Tech offense, giving up a goal two minutes later to tie the game at 1-1.

The Golden Eagles ended the Racers hopes of making the OVC playoffs just before the first half ended as they put away their second goal. The Racers could not muster a response.

“The commitment defensively was poor toward the end of the first half,” Acreman said. “I think in the first 20 minutes of the game we dominated the team again, but without scoring goals you can’t win games.”

Murray State led in shots in the first half 10-9 but couldn’t capitalize.

“We had a couple players in the midfield dribbling in and they needed to score those goals,” Acreman said. “Statistically we’re beating the other team but the result doesn’t show it.” Murray State will miss the post season for the first time in Acreman’s tenure and she said this season’s results should be an eye opener for her young team as they send the seniors off Sunday afternoon for senior day.

“Well obviously for my younger players this has been a learning experience for them, and it has been all season,” Acreman said. “The worst thing is going to be on senior day when you know you can’t go to the tournament.”

The Racers will play their final two games of the season at 3 p.m. at Cutchin Field this afternoon against Eastern Kentucky and at 1 p.m. on Sunday against Morehead State.

Nick Dolan, Staff Writer