Samford cripples Redhawks' title hopes

Monday, October 17, 2005

Southeast suffered a 3-1 loss at home and tumbled into fifth place in the OVC.

Southeast Missouri State's hopes of winning the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season soccer championship took a major hit Sunday afternoon.

And at the same time, Samford's hopes of capturing a third consecutive OVC title received a major lift as the Bulldogs posted a 3-1 victory at Houck Stadium.

Southeast fell to 9-4-1 overall and 4-2-1 in the OVC. The Redhawks have 13 points (teams receive three points for a win and one point for a tie in conference play).

With two OVC games remaining -- at Murray State and Tennessee-Martin -- Southeast finds itself in fifth place, three points behind first-place Eastern Illinois and two points behind a trio of squads tied for second.

"It's disappointing," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "It will be difficult now [to win the OVC regular-season title]. We would need a lot of help."

The Redhawks will likely have to finish strong simply to get a home game for the first-round of the OVC tournament. The top six finishers in the 10-team league qualify, with the top two receiving a first-round bye. The squads finishing third and fourth host opening-round contests.

"That's our next priority, getting a [tournament] home game," Nelson said.

Samford (10-3-2, 5-2 OVC), which handed Eastern Illinois its first conference loss on Friday, has 15 points to pull into a second-place tie. The Bulldogs need to win their final two games and hope Eastern Illinois slips up.

"We're in the mix of things," said Samford coach Todd Yelton. "Considering where we were a couple of weeks ago and where we are now, we're glad to have a chance."

The Bulldogs, who have beaten the Redhawks in all four meetings between the programs, scored on three breakaways as they used nice passing to capitalize on Southeast defensive breakdowns.

"We played well," Yelton said. "I knew it would take special efforts to get it past their keeper, because she is really good."

Southeast goalkeeper Lindsay Pickering had virtually no chance on any of the Bulldogs' goals.

"The first two goals were created by us," Nelson said, alluding to defensive miscues.

Samford scored midway through the opening half on the first of Kim Matthews' two goals.

Southeast countered with 16:10 remaining in the first half on freshman Casey Kraft's fifth goal of the season. It was unassisted.

Kraft, in an impressive individual effort, beat two defenders and then drilled a shot from a bad angle on the right side from about 22 yards out that caught the upper left corner of the net.

"That was a great play by Casey," Nelson said.

Matthews scored on another breakaway with 10:07 left before halftime as the Bulldogs went ahead 2-1.

"We set ourselves up for the first two goals," Nelson said.

Southeast pressed hard for much of the second half but could not come up with any really good scoring chances.

Samford then iced the victory with just 8:46 to play on another breakaway goal by Lauren Faubion.

The Bulldogs capitalized on all three of their solid scoring chances as Pickering was credited with just one save.

Samford keeper Cayley Winters was not forced to make a save as the Bulldogs held a narrow 5-4 edge in shots, although Southeast did have five of the game's six corner kicks.

"We got some dangerous crosses in, but we didn't do enough to finish them," Nelson said.

Southeast plays at Murray State Friday afternoon.

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