Story by Gage Johnson, Staff writer
Murray State soccer was able to claim its second OVC title in three years on Sunday by taking down Eastern Kentucky in a sudden death overtime match that ended 1-0.
The Racers entered the game sitting at 14-1-2 overall after defeating Southeast Missouri State 1-0. They also entered with a five-game win streak.
Eastern Kentucky entered play at 11-4-4 overall after having to go through seventh-seeded Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and second-seeded Tennessee Tech, winning the latter in double overtime.
Murray State came out of the gates aggressive in offense. They managed to fire off nine shots in the first half, but the Colonels’ senior goalkeeper Anna Hall managed to save six of them with three off target, keeping the Racers off the board. Murray State’s defense continued to work as well, allowing Eastern Kentucky to get only one shot off in the half. With both defenses stifling the others offense, the game went into the second half at 0-0.
As the intensity of the crowd increased, the two teams picked up their play throughout the second half as well. Between the two halfs, Eastern Kentucky racked up 15 fouls, while Murray State tallied eight. The Racers continued their offensive attack, but Hall managed to save all five of their shots, pushing her total to 11 for the game and keeping Murray State off the board. Eastern Kentucky managed to get off four shots of their own, but were unable to convert, sending the game into a sudden death overtime period.
With just four minutes passing by in overtime, the Racers capitalized on a play that hasn’t gone their way all season. Senior forward Harriet Withers sent the ball from the corner, senior defender Nyomi Devine then headed the ball off the post and sophomore forward Miyah Watford kicked the rebound in for her sixth goal of the season and the first corner-kick of the Racers’ season. The goal gave Murray State the 1-0 win, making them OVC champions for the second time in three years.
Head Coach Jeremy Groves couldn’t believe they had finally scored on a corner kick, nonetheless in a game of this magnitude
“We’ve been a little unlucky from corners all season,” Groves said. “SIUE, we had a bunch of corners; EIU, we had a bunch of corners. They just didn’t seem to be falling, and I’m just really happy this one did.”
After scoring the game-winning goal in both of the only two games the Racers played, Watford was awarded the OVC Tournament MVP.
“I feel amazing,” Watford said. “I really wanted to win it for our seniors.”
After winning the school’s third OVC title and improving their RPI to a school best 21, according to Groves, Murray State will now find out who they play in the NCAA tournament during the NCAA selection show at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6.