Redhawks claim OVC opener 1-0

Monday, September 25, 2006
Southeast Missouri State's Nicole Bussman unleashed the game's only goal in the final seconds of the first half Sunday against Tennessee-Martin at Houck Stadium. (Fred Lynch)

Southeast defeated Tennessee-Martin with a goal just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

The Southeast Missouri State women's soccer team opened Ohio Valley Conference play two days later than originally planned.

But the wait was worth it for the Redhawks, who held off Tennessee-Martin 1-0 Sunday afternoon in front of about 125 fans at Houck Stadium.

Southeast was supposed to have its first OVC match Friday night against visiting Murray State, but torrential rain and tornado warnings forced the contest to be postponed until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"It's a good start for us and overall we played pretty well," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "It's always nice whenever you can win a conference game."

The Redhawks evened their overall record at 4-4. Tennessee-Martin, which lost at Eastern Illinois 1-0 in its OVC opener Friday, fell to 2-7-1 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

"It's good to start conference with a win and we're excited to play Murray State," sophomore forward Nicole Bussman said.

Bussman scored Sunday's only goal --- but just barely, as her shot from about 20 yards out that beat UTM keeper Cara Sullivan was ruled to have crossed the line just before the first-half buzzer sounded.

UTM was pressuring Southeast late in the opening period when the Redhawks broke toward the other end. Freshman Cassie Brown sent a pass to Bussman, who was all alone but still quite a distance from the Skyhawks' goal with the clock fast winding down.

Bussman dribbled several times until she was about 20 yards away and then fired her shot that got past Sullivan. To the protest of the UTM coaching staff, which felt time had expired, the goal was allowed to stand. Brown received an assist.

"I know it was getting late, but it's the type of thing you really can't rush," Bussman said. "I was thinking that I just needed to get my placement right. But I think it was good."

Southeast had several other excellent scoring opportunities, especially in the first half -- when the Redhawks outshot the Skyhawks 10-2 -- and during the opening 30 minutes of the second half.

But the Skyhawks nearly tied the contest several times over the final 15 minutes as Southeast keeper Lindsay Pickering was forced to make some nice saves, including a diving stop on a redirection.

Pickering was credited with seven saves in her fourth shutout of the season. Sullivan made eight saves. Southeast wound up with a 17-8 advantage in shots.

"Lindsay made some very good saves late," Nelson said. "Given Tennessee-Martin credit. I thought we had some opportunities, but they battled for everything."

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