Southeast soccer nets its first goal in tie with Evansville

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ Southeast's Ashley Runion battles with Evansville's Julie Winkler for control of the ball during the first half Monday at Houck Stadium.

The Southeast Missouri State soccer team failed to pick up its first victory of the season Monday night.

But the Redhawks were still in a good mood.

Southeast finally notched its initial goal of the year, which helped the Redhawks avoid their fifth straight loss to begin the campaign.

The Redhawks and Evansville battled to a 1-1 tie through 110 minutes of soccer at Houck Stadium.

Southeast is 0-4-1, while Evansville is 5-2-2.

"It's about time," said senior Megan McGrath, who scored Southeast's goal on a free kick with just over a minute left in regulation. "Although we didn't win, this definitely boosted our confidence."

After Evansville scored with just over five minutes to go in regulation, Southeast appeared headed for another shutout defeat.

AARON EISENHAUER ~ Evansville's Danielle Brand controls the ball behind Southeast Missouri State's Kristi Frick during the first half Monday at Houck Stadium.

But with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining, McGrath's free kick from about 25 yards out somehow trickled past several players from both sides and into the net.

"I was supposed to play it across and it kind of bypassed everyone," McGrath said. "I think the goalie got screened."

After two 10-minute overtime periods failed to produce any scoring, the squads settled for the draw.

Evansville had a 14-12 edge in shots and a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Evansville's Katelyn Smith and Southeast's Nicole Bussman collide as they go for the ball during the first half.

Southeast sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Beckham was strong in the nets with eight saves.

"I would say she has been our most consistent player," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said of Beckham. "She has played well for us."

The Aces appeared to score with 13 minutes left in the first half, but the goal was waved off after officials ruled that an Evansville player collided with Beckham, causing her to lose the ball.

Despite the slow start to the season, Nelson has insisted all along that she has not been overly concerned.

Nelson expected some growing pains after Southeast lost seven starters from last year's squad that captured its second straight Ohio Valley Conference tournament title, along with the OVC regular-season championship.

In addition, senior standout Casey Kraft missed the first three games because of an injury and sophomore Vanessa Hart -- a second-team all-OVC selection as a freshman -- has not played yet due to an injury.

"We had to get our stuff together. We're such a young team," said sophomore Ashley Runion, the 2007 OVC freshman of the year who led the conference in scoring. "Evansville is a really good team and I feel a lot better about us now."

So does Nelson, who believes consistent scoring eventually will come.

"I would be more worried if we weren't creating chances," Nelson said. "We've had other chances to finish and haven't.

"Evansville is an excellent team. I predict they'll win the Missouri Valley Conference. I knew if we could get a good result it would set us up for Murray State [which Southeast hosts Friday night in the OVC opener]."

Nelson said the Redhawks have played a rugged schedule so far, and it's not like Southeast has been getting blown out.

The Redhawks dropped 1-0 decisions to Missouri State, Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, while losing 2-0 to Army.

"I knew we needed this type of schedule to prepare us for the OVC," Nelson said. "I think we've steadily been getting better. I felt good about the second half Friday at Northern Illinois. Tonight sealed it."

Southeast also appears to be getting close to 100 percent health-wise for the first time all season.

Kraft has played the last two games after recovering from an ankle injury.

Hart, who at one time this summer was feared lost for the season with a knee injury, was cleared recently to return. Nelson said Hart will be in the starting lineup against Murray State.

"It will be the first time we'll have our entire team on the field," Nelson said. "I feel good about us heading into the start of OVC."

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