The soccer team defeated Jacksonville State 1-0 in its final road game of the season and is preparing for its last game.
Head Coach Beth Acreman said she was pleased with the team coming together on the road and claiming the victory.
“We focused all week on finishing the season strong, and I was so pleased for the players that we were able to play well,” Acreman said.
The teams played a scoreless first half with the Gamecocks controlling the tempo and holding the Racers to five shots, none of which went near the Jacksonville State net.
The Racers continued to withstand the Gamecocks and turned up the pressure in the final 15 minutes. The Murray State score came from a lucky bounce.
Junior forward Julie Mooney spun and dribbled past her defender and took her 10th shot of the match, which was blocked by the Gamecocks’ goalkeeper.
The ball bounced to junior Bronagh Kerins, who put the ball in the back of the net in the 80th minute and gave the Racers a 1-0 lead.
“Our attacking players had been working hard all week on finishing, so I was really pleased to see Bronagh execute and get us on the scoreboard,” Acreman said.
Murray State is preparing for its final game of the season at Cutchin Field.
Seniors Tasha Merritt and Shawna Wicker will be honored before the game against rival Austin Peay.
Merritt and Wicker have come from different paths, but each have left their mark on the Murray State program.
Merritt, senior midfielder from Aberystwyth, Wales, has been a part of the team since arriving in July and said she has enjoyed her time in the U.S.
“I’ve loved every minute of it here, but I am disappointed I didn’t get the wins I had hoped for,” Merritt said.
While Merritt was only a member of the team this season, she brought tournament experience, after playing for Ashton Villa Ladies Football Club of the FA Women’s Premier League.
Merritt said she plans on staying at Murray State until the end of the spring semester and could get another year playing for the Racers.
“I’m going to try to appeal so I can play another year here, which I would love,” Merritt said. “If not, I will just go back home and play for my club.”
Merritt has scored two goals and has two assists this season. She said her favorite memory was the team’s first conference win and her contribution to that win.
“When I scored against Tennessee Tech, it was my favorite moment of the season,” Merritt said. “Putting the ball in the back of the net – I was happy for the team and it put the nail in the coffin.”
The other senior to be honored Sunday is midfielder Wicker, who has played for the Racers throughout the past four seasons.
Wicker made major contributions in her freshman year, starting in 13 games and scoring three goals during the season.
Wicker said she is a hometown girl, since she played soccer at Calloway County High School, but she said this senior day will be much different than her last one.
“It will be bittersweet to leave these girls and the family atmosphere that we have as a team,” Wicker said. “To know they are going to be practicing and I won’t is going to hurt the most.”
In her four seasons at Murray State, Wicker has scored 12 goals and has been the main presence in the midfield of the Racers’ lineup.
Acreman and Wicker have a relationship that dates back to when Wicker played club soccer and Acreman was her coach.
Acreman spoke about the change she has seen in Wicker since then.
“She is a great ambassador of Murray State,” Acreman said. “She is a great person to be around and always is positive.”
Wicker said her future includes graduation and marriage in May.
She also hopes to teach health and physical education and become a soccer coach.
“I’ve learned a lot from Coach Acreman these four years, and I hope that it has prepared me for being a coach,” Wicker said.
Wicker would not rule out the possibility of becoming head coach for the team she is about to leave behind.
Wicker and Merritt said they are not sure how they are going to react before the game when they are honored.
“I’m not an emotional person, but I know I will be emotional leaving the game,” Wicker said.
The Racers host Austin Peay at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cutchin Field.
Story by Tom Via, Staff Writer