Redhawks soccer takes shot at OVC title, right to host tourney

Friday, October 20, 2006

Southeast needs just the right amount of help from Eastern Illinois to overtake Samford.

The Southeast Missouri State women's soccer team needs a little help heading into the final weekend of Ohio Valley Conference play.

But the bottom line is the Redhawks are still in the running to win the OVC regular-season championship and host the conference tournament.

Southeast finishes its league schedule with two matches in Alabama, playing Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. tonight and defending champion Samford at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Redhawks are 7-6-1 overall and 4-2-1 in OVC play, good for 13 points and a second-place tie with Eastern Illinois. (In conference games, teams receive three points for a win and one point for a tie.)

Both squads are chasing Samford, which leads with 17 points -- and the Bulldogs finish their conference schedule with EIU tonight and then Southeast.

Southeast needs to win its final two league games and hope Samford either ties or loses against EIU. The Redhawks will learn tonight whether they still have a shot at the title entering Sunday's play.

"At least we've still got a chance," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "The way the conference has been this year, there is no clear outcome anymore. Anything can happen. All the teams are so even."

The best-case scenario for Southeast -- assuming it beats Jacksonville State tonight --would be for Samford and Eastern Illinois to tie, which is not out of the question since the Bulldogs have already tied two conference matches while the Panthers have four league ties.

If that were to happen, Samford would have 18 points, Southeast would go to 16 points (by beating Jacksonville State) and Eastern Illinois would have only 14 points.

Southeast would then win the regular-season title outright by defeating Samford on Sunday, meaning the Redhawks would host the conference tournament.

If Eastern Illinois beats Samford, then the Panthers and Redhawks (with a win over Jacksonville State) both would have 16 points and Samford would still have 17 points.

In that case, Southeast would need Eastern Illinois to either tie or lose to Jacksonville State on Sunday in order for the Redhawks to capture the title outright with a win over Samford.

If Southeast and Eastern Illinois finish tied for first, the Panthers would host the conference tournament because they beat the Redhawks earlier this year.

The top six finishers in the OVC qualify for the conference tournament, with the top two earning first-round byes. The remaining four teams play first-round games Oct. 31, with the squads finishing third and fourth hosting those matches.

The semifinals and finals will be Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 at the regular-season champion.

"It would be great to win the conference and host the tournament, but if that doesn't happen, it would be nice to at least finish second and get a first-round bye," Nelson said.

While tonight's opponent, Jacksonville State (4-11-2, 2-4-1), has struggled and is just eighth in the OVC with seven points, Samford (10-3-2, 5-0-2) is having another banner season.

The Bulldogs have won all three OVC regular-season titles since they joined the league in 2003, and last year they captured their first conference tournament crown.

Southeast has never beaten Samford, losing all four meetings.

Volleyball hosts leader

The Southeast volleyball team gets a crack at OVC leader tonight when Jacksonville State (14-4, 8-0) visits Houck Field House for a 7 p.m. match.

Southeast (10-12, 4-4) has another OVC home match at 5 p.m. Saturday, against Samford (6-16, 1-7).

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