Southeast Missouri State soccer team wins opening game in OVC tourney

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Southeast Missouri State soccer team continued its late-season push Thursday.

Fourth-seeded Southeast slipped past fifth-seeded Belmont 1-0 in the opening round of the six-team Ohio Valley Conference tournament in Martin, Tenn.

Southeast, which finished fourth in the 11-team OVC, improved its record to 7-9-4. The Redhawks are are 5-0-1 in their last six games.

Sophomore Torey Byrd's team-leading sixth goal of the season put Southeast ahead in the 13th minute. Two area high school products were involved in the play.

Byrd beat Belmont keeper Nicole Berner from just inside the box to the far side. Sophomore Kasey Crowden, a Jackson graduate, set up the play by lofting a ball over the defense for Storm French, a freshman from St. Vincent. Her cross was met by junior Amy Ward, who redirected it to Byrd.

"Torey was the player of the match today," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said in a release. "We asked her to possess the ball and win a lot of balls in the air. She did just that. She played great tonight."

Senior keeper Renee Kertz made five saves for her sixth shutout of the season. She made a diving save with six minutes remaining as the Redhawks secured their first OVC tournament win since 2007.

"Our back line was very solid," Nelson said. "They won a lot of balls in the air and always found a way to clear away from danger, especially when Belmont was pressing to score at the end."

Southeast and Belmont (8-9-2) each attempted nine shots. The Redhawks held a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks.

The Redhawks advance to play top-seeded, host Tennessee-Martin (11-5-3) at 4 p.m. today in the semifinals. Southeast and OVC regular-season champion UTM tied 1-1 this year in Cape Girardeau.

The championship game is set for 1 p.m. Sunday, with the winner earning an NCAA tournament berth.

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