The Murray State women’s soccer team kicked off the 2013 season with a 1-0 victory at Evansville and followed up its performance with a draw at Northern Kentucky.
Head Coach Beth Acreman said she believes this road trip will help the team later in the season.
“We went on the road and came away with two shutouts, and that’s very encouraging to have two clean sheets this weekend,” Acreman said.
She said the weekend belonged to freshmen Savannah Haberman, who recorded the two shutouts in her first weekend as the Murray State goalkeeper.
“Savannah made some great saves and is playing extremely well for us,” Acreman said.
Haberman faced 23 shots this weekend, saving all 10 shots that were on the Murray State net.
In the season opener at Evansville, who happens to be last year’s Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion, the Racers overcame the referees’ whistles to win the opening game 1-0. The whistle blew 16 times for Racer fouls compared to the Purple Aces’ seven.
The action started off with the Racers playing aggressively, putting the first three shots of the game on the Evansville goal. In the 28th minute, the aggressive style would land senior midfielder Tasha Merritt in the referee’s book with a yellow card after a hard challenge on an Evansville player.
Just before the first half ended, the Racers earned a corner kick that would provide the only offense the team would need. Junior forward Pavlina Nepokojova served the ball from the corner and connected with senior midfielder Shauna Wicker, who pushed the ball past the Evansville goalkeeper in the 42nd minute.
In the second half, the Racers would call upon Haberman in her collegiate debut to protect the lead and win the game. Haberman made three saves in the final 45 minutes, including two in the 65th minute to hold on for the 1-0 victory.
The victory for the Racers was their first at Evansville in four appearances and just their second all-time against the Purple Aces.
The Racers’ road trip continued to Northern Kentucky as they played the Norse to a 0-0 draw after 110 minutes of action that saw both teams get numerous chances to score.
“Our play today was very much a grind-it-out game,” Acreman said. “With this being the opening weekend, you could tell fatigue was playing a role today. We’re excited that we got so many shots off, but we just could not get that goal for the win today.”
The first half saw the Racers come out of the locker room shooting and dominating the beginning of the game, generating eleven shots on the Norse goal compared to four at the Racer net.
The second half saw the Norse attack the Racers’ defense as they dominated possession and put the pressure on Haberman. She recorded her first save in the 55th minute of the game. The Norse continued to fire shots into the area, but couldn’t get one past the keeper.
In overtime it was Haberman holding strong as the Norse got three shots on net in the opening minutes of extra time. The save of the match happened in the 92nd minute as Haberman dove to her left to keep the game tied.
The Racers’ best opportunity for a goal came with two minutes remaining in the first overtime period as junior Julie Mooney broke free on a run, but wasn’t able to score.
The second overtime period saw Northern Kentucky get another opportunity to win, but Haberman made the diving saves to preserve the draw.
The Racers continue their road trip today when they travel to Alabama A&M, which the Racers defeated last year 5-0. The Racers return to Cutchin Field for their home opener at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Story by Tom Via, Contributing Writer