Kertz impressive in Southeast Missouri State women's soccer debut

Monday, August 20, 2012
Southeast Missouri State's Meg Herndon passes around Saint Louis defender Lindsay Elking during the first half Sunday at Houck Stadium. (Laura Simon)

Renee Kertz had not played a competitive soccer game since her senior year of high school in 2008.

But Kertz showed little rust Sunday night during her collegiate soccer debut for Southeast Missouri State.

Kertz, who made her first start in goal, posted a shutout as the Redhawks and visiting Saint Louis University battled to a scoreless tie.

"She's great," Southeast senior defender Hayley Abbott said. "She did really well. She talked a lot. She was confident. It's nice to have two good goalies."

Kertz was a four-year softball standout for Southeast. She never envisioned playing soccer in college until the Redhawks coaching staff contacted her in the spring following her senior softball season.

Southeast Missouri State's Courtney Luehmann heads the ball between Saint Louis defenders Alli Reimer, left, and Maggie Baumann during the first half Sunday at Houck Stadium. Check out more photos from the game at semoball.com. (Laura Simon)

Southeast was in need of a goalkeeper to back up all-Ohio Valley Conference junior Ashton Aubuchon.

"They gave me a call and asked me if I was still going to be down here this year," said Kertz, who is scheduled to graduate in December. "I still had some classes to take."

Southeast's coaches originally might have projected Kertz strictly to be a backup until she opened plenty of eyes in the preseason.

"She's so athletic," Southeast associate head coach Paul Nelson said. "She reacts to the ball so quickly."

Aubuchon was in the nets during Friday's season-opening 2-1 loss to visiting Illinois State. Kertz said she was told earlier Friday that she would get her chance Sunday.

Southeast Missouri State's Hayley Abbott controls the ball during the first half Sunday.

"I'm not going to lie, I was real nervous," said Kertz, who played keeper as a junior and senior at Notre Dame High School in St. Louis. "The second half I felt more comfortable."

Kertz didn't outwardly display many nerves. She handled herself well, especially on several crosses and long balls that she cut off.

And Kertz made the save of the game late during regulation after the Billikens (0-1-1) had dominated the second half with a 12-2 edge in shots.

SLU's Abbey Stock got behind Southeast's defense and ripped a shot from about 20 yards out that appeared headed for the top of the net with a little more than five minutes left in regulation. The 5-foot-9 Kertz leaped and punched the ball over the goal.

"I just reacted to the ball," Kertz said.

Southeast Missouri State's Erin Shulman, right, runs into Saint Louis goalkeeper Katie Walsh on Sunday.

The Bills nearly scored on the sequence when their corner kick was re-directed toward the left post, but freshman defender Amy Harrington kicked it away.

Kertz was credited with four saves, all in the second half, during a game that featured two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods after the 90 minutes of regulation.

"She was very impressive," Nelson said. "After tonight's performance, there certainly will be opportunities for her. It's good for both keepers. It raises your game."

Kertz is happy she got the call from Southeast coaches and that she decided to give college soccer a try.

"I love it," Kertz said. "It's lots of fun. The girls are really nice."

Kertz (Renee)

SLU outshot Southeast 17-5 and had a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks. Most of the Bills' dominance came in the second half. The first half and the overtimes were fairly even.

"The first half was really good," Abbott said. "The second half we struggled a little, but we showed a lot of heart in the overtimes. All credit to SLU. They played fantastic."

SLU's best chance in the first half came with just less than two minutes left when Jamei Borges stole a pass and rammed a shot off the post.

Although the Bills had most of the prime scoring opportunities, Southeast also had its share of chances. SLU keeper Katie Walsh made two saves, including a nice leaping stop off a shot by Southeast sophomore forward Erin Shulman.

"Tonight was a great learning experience for the team," Nelson said. "In the second half, we couldn't change momentum and lost a little confidence, which we talked with the team about. In the overtime, we got back to how we played in the first half, which I was pleased with."

Southeast fell to 0-3-2 all-time vs. SLU, which visited Houck Stadium for the first time since 2005. The squads also played to a scoreless draw last year in St. Louis.

"SLU is a good team. They pass the ball well and attack well," Nelson said. "These first two teams we've played are no slouches. There are just things we're learning day by day."

Southeast continues its four-game season-opening homestand Friday when Missouri-Kansas City visits at 6:30 p.m.

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