Racer soccer faces Morehead State in OVC Tournament semifinals
Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor
Freshman goalkeeper Alex Steigerwald and the defense look to continue their stingy defending this weekend after only allowing only two goals in the last seven games.
Steigerwald, from West Chester, Ohio, is ranked eighth in the nation in save percentage and 28th in the nation in goals-against average.
Head Coach Jeremy Groves said he has been pleased with his goalkeeper this season.
“Having a goalkeeper who can handle services and cover them cleanly is huge,” he said. “It takes a lot of pressure off of corners and services when she’s collecting the balls. Ever since she has stepped in she has done a fantastic job.”
Groves said she has had a lot of help from the defensive line consisting of two seniors who have been by her side throughout the year.
Taylor Stevens, senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, said Steigerwald has given the team and the defense a lot of confidence.
“She’s been really consistent and she’s made all of the saves we have expected her to make,” Stevens said. “But she has also come up with the big saves that we haven’t expected her to make.”
Racheal Foxley, senior from Bolton, England, also gave praise to the freshman. “Before she came into her first game we told her you have been doing really well in training,” Foxley said. “Just take your chance and take your opportunity and just be confident.”
The defense for the Racers has been great all year as it has only let up 23 goals, which is good for fourth in the OVC.
“I think we’re confident, we have been doing fine all season,” Foxley said. “We’ve been defending hard and I think what we have been doing on defense has been working for us.”
Defense will be key as the Racers look to face Morehead State Friday in the OVC semifinals. Last year Morehead beat the Racers 5-1 to advance further in the OVC tournament.
“I think it helps that we got beat last year,” Groves said. “Because now we can be a little more focused on them and what they do.”
The Racers and Morehead State squared off earlier in the regular season with the Racers winning 2-0.
Foxley said they know what to expect from Morehead, because of the regular season game, heading into the semifinal game.
Stevens said being the only team in the conference to go undefeated is great, but that territory comes with a big target on their backs.
With a season full of high points and some low points a couple seniors took time to reflect on the regular season before preparing for the semifinal.
“Just the whole season as a whole really,” Foxley said of her favorite moments. “I don’t think there’s been one specific even. Also getting the trophy early, I don’t think the trophy has been given out that early in the OVC before, so that was cool.”
Stevens said finishing 10-0 on the year had to be one of her favorite moments.
“The game where we won conference, that was definitely a big game,” Stevens said. “But I would say the last game was exciting because it is really unusual to go 10-0.”
The semifinal game is at 2 p.m. Friday against Morehead at Cutchin Field. The winner will play the winner between Tennessee Tech and Southeast Missouri State at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cutchin Field for the OVC Tournament Championship.