Despite a late comeback effort, the Murray State women’s soccer team fell to Arkansas State 3-2 Friday afternoon.
The Racers set the pace early as they controlled the possession battle, dominating nearly every facet of the game. The Red Wolves were scrambling to find any advantage, as they were forced to play defensively for much of the afternoon. Murray State Head Coach Jeremy Groves was pleased with how his team’s offense attacked.
“We broke them down, we got in behind and we had one on one opportunities,” Groves said. “It was just one of those days when we just couldn’t finish.”
The troubles for Murray State started in the game’s 26th minute when Arkansas State managed to capitalize on a counterattack. The Racers made a simple mista
ke by tripping Red Wolf Samhia Simao in the penalty box, leading to an early 1-0 deficit. The luck continued to stay with Arkansas State, however, as an errant back pass was intercepted by Loren Mitchell in the 33rd minute before she tapped the ball past the goalkeeper to give her team a two point advantage going into the break.
“I think it was a combination of luck and defensive breakdowns,” said senior forward Julie Mooney. “We were just kind of diving in and giving up the penalty kicks, which shouldn’t happen. We just need to stay on our toes more defensively.”
The third Red Wolves goal came in the early minutes of the second half. Simao capitalized on her second penalty kick of the afternoon to extend her team’s lead to three. Down three goals to none, the Racers picked up the pace in an effort to cut into the lead. In the 68th minute Mooney scored the first goal of Murray State’s season on a chip shot set up by teammate Lyssie Wright.
At a score of 3-1 with about 20 minutes left in the game, the home crowd felt a surge of belief that spurred the Racers on. A barrage of Murray State shots on goal followed with none finding their mark until just under two minutes left in the game.
Through pure determination, Mooney found the back of the net again on an unassisted goal to pull her team to within one goal of the Red Wolves.
The last two minutes of the game saw Arkansas State frantically clearing the ball time and time again to run down the clock and secure the 3-2 victory.
Despite the season opening loss, Groves is looking at the positive aspects of the game instead of the negative.
“I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not disappointed with how the girls fought and performed,” Groves said. “I thought we performed well.”
The Racers dominated on the offensive side of the field as indicated by their 22-10 advantage in total shots. They also finished the game with 10 shots on goal to Arkansas State’s seven.
“I think we really outplayed them most of the game,” Mooney said. “We just gave up a few silly goals, two penalty kicks and we can definitely fix the little things like that.”
The early season loss was not what the Racers were looking for, but Groves and his team are determined to move on and make the best of it.
“It was our mistakes that cost us the game, but overall it’s a positive outcome you know.” Groves said. “We lost, the result is disappointing but it’s a step forward for us.”
The Racers will be back at Cutchin Field today at 1 p.m. to take on Georgia State. Georgia State was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt preseason poll.
Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer