Wins and losses are coming in bunches for the Murray State women’s soccer team as they defeated Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State to tie a school record for longest win streak before losing to SIU Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri last week.
Finding success after some early season struggles, the Racers came into OVC play against Tennessee Tech riding a three-game win streak. The momentum didn’t carry over into the first half as neither team could find the back of the net in the first period.
Senior forward Julie Mooney got things going for the Racers in the second half, however, as she scored her eighth goal of the season in the 52nd minute. As the Racers dominatined the pace, Harriet Withers and Lyssie Wright each tacked on a goal to win the game 3-0.
Goalkeeper Shelby Haworth saved all three shots on goal for her second shutout of the season.
The Racers increased their win streak to five, tying a school record, as they defeated Jacksonville State 3-0. The first half was scoreless until the final minute when Pavlina Nepokojova fired in a shot that ricocheted off a Jacksonville State player to score the first point of the game. After the break, Murray State continued its attack as Taylor Stevens got a foot on a corner kick in the 56th minute to score her first goal of the season and the Racers’ second goal of the afternoon. Stevens was not done, however, as she headed in the final goal off another corner kick to give the Racers the 3-0 victory.
“The first two conference games, we talked about going 2-0 and that’s exactly what we did,” said Head Coach Jeremy Groves. “I think we were coming off a lot of confidence from the previous three games. We played really well going forward, and we created a bunch of chances against both teams. Jacksonville State was a tough team, they beat the reigning champion 2-1 on Friday night so to beat them we kind of caused a few stirs within the league which was good.”
The five-game win streak was not lost on the players.
“We had five games in a row which is really nice,” said Junior defender Taylor Stevens. “They gave us confidence and let us know that what we were doing in practice was working and that we just needed to keep doing that to keep the wins.”
But five wins would be all they could string together as the streak was snapped Oct. 3 by SIU Edwardsville. The Cougars struck first but Murray State retaliated in the 69th minute of the game as Stevens scored her third goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
Although both teams had their chances to break the dead lock in regulation, neither could get the job done and sent the match in to overtime. The intense competition continued in the first overtime period as both teams struggled to find an advantage.
It took a second overtime period to decide the game when Emily Grahl scored off a corner kick to give SIU Edwardsville the 2-1 victory.
“This weekend we knew would be a big test for us because we went on the road,” Groves said. “We haven’t been great on the road this year so it was a huge test. On Friday night we gave a pretty decent account of ourselves. I think we did enough to get out of there with a tie with like four or five minutes left in the second overtime period, but we just gave up one on a set piece which is really disgruntling. And I think it hurt a lot going into Sunday.”
The loss came as a disappointment to the Racers. They were only one win away from breaking the school win streak record.
“It was really disappointing,” Stevens said. “And we went in to overtime, too, which was even more disappointing because we were really, really close to breaking it.”
The Racers continued their weekend road trip as they visited SEMO on Sunday and walked away with their second straight loss.
The Racers let their opponent score the first goal for the second straight game but pulled even at 1-1 off a penalty kick goal from Mooney in the 36th minute.
The Redhawks’ Natasha Minor scored the final goal as she found the back of the net in the 79th minute, propelling SEMO to the 2-1 victory.
“Sunday we gave a really good account of ourselves,” Groves said. “We outshot them and I thought we had the better chances but again a couple of mental errors and we lost the game and we’re back to 2-2 in the conference.”
Despite the setback, the Racers must regroup and bounce back this weekend as they take on Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky at Cutchin Field in Murray.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Stevens said. “We have Morehead on Friday so we are going to work really hard this week in practice, beat Morehead, and then we have another game on Sunday to try to get another streak going.”
Catch the Racers in action today as they kick off at 3 p.m. against Morehead State at Cutchin Field.
Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer