The Murray State women’s soccer team split two games this weekend with a win at home Friday against Georgia State and a loss on the road at Dayton.
The Racers received their first victory of the season Friday as they took down Georgia State 2-1 at Cutchin Field. Head Coach Jeremy Groves was pleased with his team’s effort in the win.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Groves said. “They’re a better team than what we’ve seen previously. Our game plan changed; it wasn’t as run and gun, it was more tactical like a chess game. The girls played well and they fought back which shows their toughness.”
The Racers’ odds looked bleak early in the match as Georgia State scored only four minutes into the game.
The goal came on the third consecutive corner kick by Margaret Bruemmer as she bent it around the near side post before it bounced off the far post and in.
The Racers regained their composure and controlled the pace for a good part of the first half. Going into the break, the score remained at 1-0.
In the 65th minute of the second half, freshman Harriet Withers scored the Racers’ first goal of the afternoon and the first collegiate goal of her career off a rebounded shot by senior Julie Mooney.
Withers would go on to score the go ahead goal only four minutes later off her own missed shot.
“Honestly, it was overwhelming,” Withers said, referring to her first collegiate goal. “It didn’t hit me until the end of the game, really, but it was the best feeling ever. It was definitely one to remember.”
Groves has been pleasantly surprised by Withers’ impact on the team despite some early setbacks.
“She came in and got injured in preseason so that put her a bit behind,” Groves said. “She really didn’t play that much in the first scrimmage game. But I think everyone can see she’s got some pretty good athleticism.”
Unfortunately for the Racers, Withers and company could not muster up enough effort to rally against Dayton on Sunday as they lost 5-1 at Baujan Field.
The game started evenly as both teams struggled to find a shot on goal as there was only one within the first 20 minutes of play.
However, in the 24th minute, Dayton’s Erin O’Malley headed in a goal off a corner kick to score the first goal of the game for the Flyers.
Dayton kept the pressure on before half by scoring two more goals to increase its lead to three going into the break.
The Racers showed some life early in the second half as Mooney got Murray State on the board off a shot from the top of the box to the far post, closing the gap to 3-1.
This was as close as Murray State would get, however, as Chelsea Rose and Meghan Blank added two more for the Flyers to seal the 5-1 victory for Dayton.
“It was disappointing,” Withers said. “We went in with high expectations that we were going to do well, at least come out with a draw but I guess things happened and they got a few lucky chances off set pieces.
“We thought we played pretty well as a team; our defense once again did well. Our strikers did well, our midfielders especially did well given the formation that we’re playing so I think even though the score wasn’t the best our game was all around pretty good.”
The Racers now must move past their recent loss and look toward their looming opponents.
This weekend, Murray State travels south to take on Florida Gulf Coast and Florida International.
This stretch could be tough for the Racers as FIU just came off a 1-0 loss to Santa Clara, the No. 15 team in the country, and Florida Gulf Coast boasts an early season victory over perennial powerhouse Arizona.
“It’s going to be a very tough trip,” Groves said. “I’m looking for a very strong test this weekend.”
Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer