Redhawks open OVC with scoreless duel against EIU

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Southeast Missouri State women's soccer coach Heather Nelson didn't envision Friday night's Ohio Valley Conference opener being totally dominated by defense.

But that's what happened as the Redhawks and visiting Eastern Illinois battled to a 0-0 tie in front of about 250 fans at Houck Stadium.

The Redhawks are 4-2-1 overall, while the Panthers -- who have won the past four OVC Tournament titles -- are 2-7-1. Both teams are expected to be among the league's top contenders.

"No, you expect someone to break down at some point," said Nelson, when asked if she anticipated goals being so hard to come by. "But both defenses came out huge.

"Neither team was playing to defend, both teams were playing to win. It just worked out that way."

After neither squad could find the net during the 90 minutes of regulation and the two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods, Nelson figured the result turned out to be what it should have been.

"I would have loved to come away with a win, but it was a fair result," Nelson said.

In addition to nobody scoring, there really weren't all that many good scoring opportunities by either team, although the Panthers had the best chances.

EIU ended with a commanding 8-1 advantage in corner kicks, but only a 7-4 edge in shots.

"It was a hard-fought game, an intense battle, the exact atmosphere I anticipated," EIU coach Tim Nowak said. "These are two very competitive teams. Both teams know each other and are good defensively."

Southeast goalkeeper Lindsay Pickering was credited with four saves in her fourth shutout of the season, while EIU keeper Tiffany Groene only had to make one save.

Pickering made her best stop late in the first overtime, a diving save off a point-blank shot by Michelle Steinhaus from about 15 yards out.

"All the balls were so contested, it probably wasn't that pretty a game," Nelson said.

Southeast has another home match Sunday as nonconference foe Memphis (6-2) visits Houck Stadium for a7 p.m. start.

"They're a very good team. They've just been dominating teams," Nelson said. "It will be a great test for us, and we need it."

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