Salukis Slam Prairie Stars In First Regular Season Game

The Saluki Women’s Soccer Team opened up the regular season tonight after playing their last exhibition game last Saturday.

In tonight’s matchup, SIU took on the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars winning the game 2-0.

Saluki head coach Grant Williams received the game ball after tonight’s game marking his very first regular season win as a coach at Southern.

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“My first thought was about our girls,” Williams said. “I told them that they will remember tonight for the rest of their lives and I know I will too.”

Southern (1-0-0) entered the night on two previous losses in exhibition matches while this game was a season opener for UIS (0-1-0).

The game began with strong Saluki defense as the ball didn’t reach the Prairie Star offensive end until six minutes into the half.

At just under the 34 minute mark, junior forward Kathryn Creedon took a long shot at the goal from the right side of the field and just as the kick was about to miss the goal, freshman forward Madison Bennion countered the ball’s course and kicked it in to score the first goal of the game. 

“I took it in the air off of the cross from Kat,” Bennion said. “I’ve been waiting for a goal and my parents flew in from California for my dad’s birthday so I’m glad I could get that for him. Overall getting the first goal in history feel amazing, especially when it took the whole team’s effort to get it.”

This goal put the Salukis up 1-0.

Williams said that the way the girls attacked the ball helped lead to the goal by Bennion.

“You try to put good attacking pieces on the field so they can do that,” Williams said. “Maddy is a good player and plays at a high level, so I’m not surprised she scored that goal.”

The Prairie Stars attempted to respond to the Bennion goal as they shot the ball to the left side of the goal, but freshman goalkeeper Dariana Mihalache dove and caught the ball before it entered the net.

Attempts were made on both ends to score, but the defenders on each team made every effort to keep the ball out of scoring position.

With just four minutes left to play in the half, sophomore defender Kailyn Stone was fouled and received a penalty kick, but the kick was deflected by the UIS goalie and the score remained 1-0.

The first half ended with the score stuck at 1-0 with Southern ahead.

The second half began with strong defense on both ends. 

Several goals were attempted on each offensive end, but both goalkeepers managed to keep the game score at 1-0 in favor of SIU.

It wasn’t until near the 20 minute mark that we saw another goal.

 At that time, freshman forward Emma Spotak attacked the Prairie Star goal as she ended up with three shots in the second half  and shot the ball into the goal giving SIU a 2-0 advantage.

“This was good to push us going forward to help us build off of,” Bennion said. “We have a lot to work on still, but getting this first win was our starting point. We’re going to go for it.”

After a hard fight on defense for the remainder of the second half, the Salukis came out with a win over UIS with two goals to none.

“I feel like tonight was a confidence booster,” Williams said. “We saw some progress tonight, but we still have a lot more things we need to work on. So we will try to recover and do it again on Sunday.”

The Dawgs will take the field again in Carbondale on Sunday at 1 pm against the University of Northern Alabama Lions.

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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