Saluki soccer edges Engineers

Tonight SIU Soccer took on the Rose-Hulman University Engineers for their third regular season game of the year taking the win over the Engineers 1-0.

“Anytime that you can get a victory you’ve done something right,” SIU head coach Grant Williams said. “I knew that their kids would be well prepared and motivated to play.”

Southern entered tonight’s game on a 3-1 loss to the University of Northern Alabama, while the Engineers entered the night with a clean slate as the matchup was their exhibition season opener.

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The Salukis seemed to be on the attacking end of things in this matchup notching two shots on goal within the first ten minutes of the game. 

Just under the thirty minute mark, freshman forward Marissa Basi kicked the ball from the 15 yard line to the top right corner of the goal, but the attempt was intercepted by Rose-Hulman goalie Natalie Dillon.

Within five minutes of Basi’s attempt SIU was back on the offensive this time with freshman forward Emma Spotak as she weaved through two defenders to shoot the ball to the far left side of the goal, but this too was intercepted by the Engineers’ goalkeeper.

At the 19 minute mark, the game remained scoreless on both ends. Despite this fact, Southern accumulated five shots on goal which was more than they shot against UNA.

With 12 minutes left to play, the Engineers received a penalty kick from a foul, but Saluki freshman goalkeeper Dariana Mihalache was able to reach the ball and get the save before it entered the net.

SIU continued to make several strong attempts at the goal, but none of them resulted in a goal. 

The game was stopped with 30 seconds remaining to play in the half due to an injury on the Rose-Hulman defensive end.

At the end of the half, the ball ended up in the Engineers’ possession with the score set at 0-0.

The beginning of the second half began like the first with the Salukis attacking the Engineer goal.

“We changed our shape a little bit in the second half,” Williams said. “I thought bringing players closer together and playing with two up front might be a solution for us. I thought it was good when we got the player I thought would play well their together and we scored pretty early on in the second half.”

Just under ten minutes had passed in the half and SIU freshman forward Kaitlin DuCharme kicked the ball from midfield into Rose-Hulman territory. 

The ball seemed as if it was going to be picked up by the Engineer goalkeeper, but Saluki freshman forward Emma Spotak sped down the field reaching the ball just in time to get the ball around the defense and shoot it in the goal putting her team up by one.

“The ball was on the left side of the field and Kaitlyn lofted over the line and I just ran onto it and got a little touch past the goalkeeper,” Spotak said. “It was a tough game, but that was a really good ball by Kaitlyn.”

Coach Williams identified Spotak’s speed as something that gives the young forward an edge on her defenders.

“She is just so quick and if you’re a defender and you take a bad angle on her, you really aren’t going to have an opportunity,” Williams said. “People misjudge her a lot. The goalkeeper thought she was going to get to the ball but couldn’t. Emma had great composure to get the ball down and around to put it in the back of the net, so hats off to her for having the composure to finish.”

It seemed Southern would score again at the 15 minute mark on a corner kick from junior midfielder Natalie Bethers, but the ball was lost in a scramble of players and fell into the hands of the opposing goalie.

SIU took several more attempts at the goal, but was unable to land one into the net. 

“I feel that we really showed up in the second half,” Spotak said. “We had a lot of opportunities to score so I’m glad we were able to get one.”

The final minute of the game ran out with neither team scoring another goal solidifying the Saluki win 1-0.

“We still have a lot to clean up and some things to work on before Friday,” Williams said. “Part of the mentality of getting better is coming to training to get better so that we are more prepared.”

Southern Soccer (2-1) will take the field again this Friday in a matchup against the Belmont University Bruins. Game time is set for 6 pm.

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

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