SLU foils 'Hawks' home opener

Saturday, September 3, 2005

St. Louis University scored a late goal to defeat Southeast 1-0.

St. Louis University could have easily scored a more decisive victory than Friday night's 1-0 final over host Southeast Missouri State.

But SLU coach Tim Champion wasn't about to complain after the Billikens spoiled the Redhawks' home opener in front of about 300 fans at Houck Stadium.

"It's early in the season, and I'm happy with the win," Champion said. "They're very good defensively. We're just glad to score a goal and get out of town."

The Billikens (2-1) dominated most of the action and had quite a few strong scoring chances, but they were not able to break through until just under 18 minutes remained in the contest.

SLU had a commanding 20-4 edge in total shots, and Billikens' goalkeeper Amanda Martin was credited with two routine saves.

Conversely, Southeast (1-1) keeper Lindsay Pickering made nine saves, including several difficult stops.

"We just tried to counter when we could," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "They're a very good team, with excellent team speed. Unfortunately we had one breakdown and that was the difference."

The defensive breakdown came late, although SLU had plenty to do with it. Maureen Hughes fed Tara Gresco with a perfect pass, allowing her to get behind the Southeast defense. Gresco, in all alone against Pickering, easily deposited the ball in the net from about 15 yards out with 17:46 remaining in the second half. The Redhawks never threatened the rest of the way.

"It was a good goal," Champion said. "She [Hughes] made a nice pass."

Champion has high hopes for the Billikens, who are coming off a 15-6-1 season that set a school record for wins and are taking aim at an NCAA Tournament berth that they narrowly missed out on in 2004.

Likewise, Champion has high hopes for touted freshman Molly Hartmann, a Jackson High School graduate who scored 135 career goals for the Indians to rank third in state history.

Hartmann did not play in SLU's first two games because of what Champion described as "some kind of heart condition. The doctors wouldn't release her until they did all the tests, but everything turned out to be fine."

Hartmann played about 30 minutes in a reserve role Friday night, making several nice runs and even having a decent chance to score (she shot wide). Her older sister, Erin Hartmann, is a senior starting defender for Southeast.

"Molly only got released [to start practicing] two days ago and right now she's limited to about 30 minutes a game," Champion said. "But soon she'll start playing all the time. We have very high hopes for her. She'll be a really good player."

The Redhawks have their own high hopes for this season, and they'll try to get back on the winning track Monday when they host Division II power Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 7 p.m.

"They're a very good Division II team, and I expect a tough game for us," Nelson said.

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