Southeast soccer team battles to 1-1 draw

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Southeast Missouri State’s Jacey Boyko battles Tennessee-Martin’s Amy Maksimowicz for the ball Tuesday at Houck Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. (ADAM VOGLER)

Taylor Byrd admitted that it wasn't easy for the Southeast Missouri State soccer team to play Tuesday night.

But Byrd and the rest of the Redhawks realize that's what Meg Herndon would have wanted.

"It was tough to come out and play," Byrd said. "But we all played together."

Defending Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champion Southeast and defending OVC tournament champ Tennessee-Martin opened their OVC schedules with a 1-1 tie at Houck Stadium.

The Redhawks were intent on honoring their fallen teammate with an inspired performance.

Herndon, a senior starting defender, died Thursday following a Sept. 9 motor vehicle accident that left her in critical condition with a severe brain injury.

Southeast players and coaches attended Monday's funeral in Fenton, Mo., then returned to Cape Girardeau to prepare for Tuesday's contest that had been postponed from Friday.

"[Monday] was a hard day, but we got through it together," said Byrd, a sophomore midfielder and Herndon's roommate.

Senior forward Courtney Luehmann, who scored Southeast's goal Tuesday, said she was especially motivated to give everything she had.

"I think it just gave everyone a lot of heart," Luehmann said. "I personally played with Meg in my heart all game. I think everybody did."

Added senior defender Hayley Abbott: "It was very emotional. It was such an unfortunate event that happened. We have to play for [Herndon] now. Play as hard as she played."

Southeast coach Heather Nelson expressed admiration for the way the Redhawks performed, especially under the circumstances.

"I couldn't be prouder of them. The last two weeks have been devastating," Nelson said.

Nelson thought Tuesday's game was a fitting battle between two top OVC programs expected to again contend for the title.

UTM (3-4-3) was picked as the OVC preseason favorite, while Southeast (1-6-3) was tabbed second.

"I just think so much of both those teams," Nelson said. "It was a nailbiter."

Southeast struck first less than two minutes into the game to end a five-match scoreless streak, the longest in program history.

Junior forward Jacey Boyko left-footed a corner kick on the ground that Luehmann one-touched into the top corner of the net for her second goal this year.

It was just Southeast's fourth goal of the season and marked the first time the Redhawks scored first in a contest.

Southeast had two more strong opportunities to add to the lead in the opening half.

Boyko was awarded a penalty kick after being taken down from behind in the 13th minute, but UTM keeper Mariah Klenke made the save.

In the 27th minute, a Boyko cross in the air found Abbott, who headed a shot to the near post. A UTM defender was positioned on the line and knocked the ball away.

"We had a lot of chances," Nelson said.

The Skyhawks tied the game in the 33rd minute when Kendyl Wilson won a race to the ball against Southeast senior keeper Renee Kertz and found the net from a sharp angle.

There was about a 30-minute delay early in the second half while medical personnel tended to a UTM player who suffered a leg injury.

Southeast created the best chance of the final half when sophomore midfielder Torey Byrd sent a long ball that Luehmann gathered behind the UTM defense with under three minutes left.

Klenke came out to challenge and forced Luehmann's shot wide of the net.

Each squad had chances in the two 10-minute overtime periods but could not convert.

"I think we played really well. I think we played as a team. Everybody played together," Luehmann said. "We shouldn't be down on ourselves. We played well. That's all we can ask for."

The Skyhawks finished with a 19-11 advantage in shots. Kertz made a career-high 12 saves while playing in her third overtime match of the season.

"I thought it was a pretty good game," Abbott said. "Both teams played really well."


* Southeast will hold a public memorial for Herndon at Houck Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday.

In case of inclement weather, the memorial will be moved inside Houck Field House.

* The Redhawks host OVC opponent Murray State at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

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