Pair of wins gives soccer team best OVC start in seven years

Story by Mark McFarland, Staff writer

The Racers defeated UT Martin 4-3 and Southeast Missouri State 4-1 over the weekend to start 3-0 in the OVC for the first time since 2008.

The Racers found comfort playing at home as they improved their home record to 4-1 on the season. Head Coach Jeremy Groves said he does not want to focus too much on the future as the team is preparing this week for a four-game road stand.

  “I think last weekend we probably gave up too many soft goals which is something we will try and focus on this weekend,” Groves said. “It gets a little bit harder now playing on the road where we can’t give teams easy chances to score goals.”



  This came after the Racers put up eight goals in two games. Groves also noted that the offense has been clicking and attacking much better than it was in the beginning of the season.

In the first game against UT Martin, it did not take more than eight minutes for the Racers to put up the first goal of the game. Taylor Stevens, senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, put the ball right past the goalkeeper to give the Racers the quick lead.

The Racers kept up the pressure, scoring another goal just 10 minutes later, as the ball was crossed into the box and found Harriet Withers, sophomore from Murwilumbah, Australia, who shot it past the keeper to give the Racers a 2-0 lead.

The UT Martin Skyhawks were not going to go away as they found the scoreboard in the 23rd minute and again in the 33rd minute to send the game to half time tied up at 2-2.

The Racers and Skyhawks played even soccer until the Racers broke the tie in the 54th minute, when Taylor Richerson, junior from Murray, Kentucky, found Withers again to take the one goal lead.

Again the Skyhawks tied it up in the 65th minute, but that was not enough to beat the Racers when Marissa Burroughs, senior from Popular Bluff, Missouri, scored in the 71st minute to seal the deal for the Racers.

The Racers then took the field to face the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri and took it to them early.

They scored quickly again as Richerson scored off of a long ball from Rebecca Bjorkvall, senior from Aland, Finland, to take the 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later Withers hit Stevens with a corner kick then headed it in to keep the momentum on the Racers side.

The Racers finished the half doing everything they could to put their undefeated conference record on the line by scoring two more goals off of the feet of Richerson and Caroline Ashton, forward and midfielder from Fishers, Indiana, to seal the game.

The Racers did not score for the rest of the game but did concede one goal from the Redhawks in the 77th minute of the game.

“Going 3-0 in conference is a big deal,” Withers said. “And obviously it is a great head start for the team and a huge step for us as a team.”

Groves said that he wants the momentum from this huge weekend to carry onto the next week and continuing the rest of season, as they are not looking too far ahead.

“Obviously it is huge to go 3-0” Groves said. “It puts us one step closer to getting into the tournament.”

The Racers head to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend, to take on Belmont Friday to start their four game road trip.