Southeast defeated Alabama A&M 1-0 for its third straight win.
By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian
Southeast Missouri State University's soccer team made sure it will enter the Ohio Valley Conference tournament with plenty of momentum.
Southeast posted its third consecutive victory Sunday afternoon, beating Alabama A&M 1-0 in the regular-season finale in front of about 100 fans at Houck Stadium.
Southeast improved to 11-5-2 with the non-conference triumph. Alabama A&M, the first-place squad in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, fell to 7-10.
"It's good to keep our winning streak going, and it's nice for our nine seniors to win their last home game," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said.
Southeast, which finished tied for fifth in the nine-team OVC, will be the sixth seed for the six-team conference tournament. The squad visits third-seeded Murray State at 1 p.m. Tuesday in a first-round game, with the winner moving on to Friday's semifinals in Birmingham, Ala.
"It's nice to win the last home game. We needed it," senior Marla Gianino said. "I think we've got our confidence back now going into the tournament."
Gianino scored the only goal Sunday, a shot from about 20 yards out with 17:20 remaining in the second half. Gianino received a nice crossing pass from Ashley DeRoy and beat Alabama A&M keeper Priscilla Mensah. Emily Newsham also earned an assist.
"It was a good game," said Gianino, Southeast's career assists leader who got her second goal of the season. "I think we picked it up in the second half."
After an evenly played first half, Southeast controlled the final period with a 10-2 edge in shots. For the game, Southeast outshot Alabama A&M 18-7.
Southeast senior goalie Amanda Wrzos was credited with five saves in her fifth shutout of the season. Mensah made nine saves. Both keepers had several impressive stops.
"They were a good team," Nelson said. "In the second half we turned things around and played a lot better."
In Tuesday's first-round OVC tournament game, Southeast will look to pay Murray State back for a 1-0 overtime loss suffered on Oct. 17 in Cape Girardeau. Southeast dominated the contest but failed to score.
"It should be a great game," Nelson said. "We feel like we owe them."
Tuesday's other tournament contest has fifth-seeded Jacksonville State visiting fourth-seeded Morehead State. Top-seeded Samford, the host for the semifinals and finals, and No. 2 Eastern Illinois earned first-round byes. The championship game is Sunday.