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Otahkians open OVC schedule with shutout
Southeast Missouri State University and Eastern Illinois are regarded as the Ohio Valley Conference's top two women's soccer teams -- and they did nothing to dispel that Friday night.
The squads slugged it out on virtually even terms for nearly 90 minutes, but a late Southeast goal lifted the Otahkians to a 1-0 victory.
An enthusiastic crowd of almost 400 at Houck Stadium saw the Otahkians win their conference opener and avenge last year's loss to EIU by a similar score in the championship game of the OVC Tournament.
Southeast is 7-3-1 overall. EIU, now 4-6-1, also was playing its first OVC game.
"It was two good teams out there and I expected it to be this close," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "I'm sure we'll see them again down the line and hopefully it will be here again."
The OVC regular-season champion hosts the conference tournament, which is what Nelson and the Otahkians have their eyes on accomplishing for the second straight season.
"Both teams are really good and I'm sure we'll see them again," Southeast junior Valerie Henderson said. "It feels good to beat them after they beat us last year, but if we see them again in the conference tournament hopefully we'll win this time."
Henderson scored the game's lone goal with just 7:38 remaining in the second half. Sophomore Michelle Frossard started things when she sent a long cross from the right side toward the net. EIU keeper Lindsay Dechert was forced to leap for the save, but she couldn't control the rebound and Henderson was right there to knock it in.
"I was just waiting for it to drop," Henderson said. "It slipped through her hands and the ball was right there for me."
Said Frossard, "I wanted to get it in front and have somebody put it in. My job is to cross it."
Added a grinning Frossard, "We definitely wanted revenge tonight for what happened last year. But they're a good team."
The Panthers had control of the ball for the first 15 minutes or so but never really put any dangerous shots on goal. After that, the Otahkians had most of the game's good chances as they hit the crossbar four times but failed to score.
"I think after about the 15-minute mark, we started to take over and play our style, which is possession," Nelson said. "Even thought we hit four crossbars, I still had a good feeling that we were going to score, although I didn't know if it would be in regulation or overtime."
Southeast held a 19-13 edge in shots. Dechert made nine saves, several of them impressive.
Otahkian keepers Amanda Wrzos and Lauren Fabbro each played one half, as they have done virtually all season, and shared the shutout. Wrzos made two saves in the first half while Fabbro had four saves in the final period.
"It's a good win for us and it's nice to start out the conference this way," Nelson said.
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