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Otahks' OVC title dreams end in double OT
Despite controlling the action, Southeast lost 1-0 to Murray State.
Soccer can often be a cruel sport -- as Southeast Missouri State University's Otahkians demonstrated Sunday afternoon.
The Otahkians controlled most of the play and had by far the better scoring chances -- yet Murray State was able to squeeze out a 1-0 victory in double-overtime.
"We dominated the game and put together one or our top second halves of the season," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "But soccer can be a cruel game."
The biggest crowd of the season at Houck Stadium -- nearly 300 fans attended, with Murray State bringing plenty of supporters -- saw Southeast fall to 8-4-2 overall and 3-2-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Racers are 7-8 and 4-3.
Southeast, with one OVC game remaining, was eliminated from contention for the conference title. And the Otahkians will now have to scramble to gain a home game for the play-in round of the league tournament.
Six of the nine OVC teams qualify for the tournament. The top two finishers earn a bye and the next four squads participate in a play-in game to qualify for the semifinals, with the third and fourth finishers playing at home.
Entering Sunday's action, most of the third through sixth spots were still up for grabs.
"This loss was devastating," said Nelson, whose squad finishes its OVC schedule at powerful Eastern Illinois. "Hopefully we can get a good result at Eastern and get a home play-in game."
Despite holding a 25-9 advantage in shots -- including 15-4 in the second half -- the Otahkians never could put the ball past MSU keeper Annie Fortier, who was credited with 14 saves in a brilliant performance.
Southeast keeper Amanda Wrzos was also solid as she made five saves, including a sensational stop with about six minutes left in the second half.
After neither team scored in the 90 minutes of regulation play, the squads went to a pair of 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods.
After nobody scored in the first overtime session and for much of the second OT period, it appeared as if the result would be a 0-0 tie.
But the Racers finally broke through with just 1:56 remaining as Molly Wolfe barely beat Wrzos to a loose ball and hit the net from point-blank range.
The play started as Laura Oppegard sent a free kick from about 40 yards out toward the goal. The ball appeared to get through several players and was headed by Lacey Latimer in the direction of Wolfe.
"It was a really good ball played by Laura, then I believe it hit Lacey in the head," explained Wolfe. "It was an intense game, hard fought by both teams. I'm glad we pulled it out."
Said Racers coach Mike Minielli, "SEMO had a ton of chances. We knew we would have to absorb a lot of pressure. We knew we'd have to gut it out and try to score on a free kick or something, which is what happened. SEMO has a good team and it's a phenomenal win for us."
Southeast has scored just one goal in its last four games, that coming Friday during a 1-0 win over Tennessee-Martin.
"We created enough to win," Nelson said. "We're just in a drought."
The Otahkians finish their OVC schedule Friday at Eastern Illinois. Their next home game is Sunday against Texas Tech.