Salukis show resilience in overtime win

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

A goal from freshman forward Madison Meiring and a second goal in overtime from sophomore defender Ellie Lewis gave the Saluki women’s soccer team a 2-1 home victory over the Morehead State Eagles on Sunday.

Today the Salukis (4-4-1) took the home field for the first time in two weeks, having played three road games in the meantime. Southern Illinois entered today’s match looking to avenge their most recent game’s loss to Western Kentucky 3-0, which took place on Friday. 

Head coach Grant Williams was pleased with his team’s performance today at the homestand following the two weeks spent on the road.

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“We had tied and we had lost a couple of games back-to-back, and one pretty heavily,” Williams said. “First half wasn’t a perfect technical or tactical execution, but as I told them, you made one more play than the other team, you [were able to] walk away with a W today and that always is going to feel better than not.” 

Morehead State entered the game today on a three-game losing streak, their most recent loss, 2-1, handed to them by Wright State on Friday.

Although the Salukis were able to put up the first shot of the game, coming off of the foot of sophomore defender Kaitlyn Stone, the Eagles opened up the game with an early lead, scoring on their third shot opportunity just seven minutes into the game.

Morehead State junior midfielder Caitlyn Burdine put a shot on goal that was saved with a deflection from Saluki freshman goalkeeper Dariana Mihalache, but Eagle freshman midfielder Gabby Natasi was able to find the ball off of the hands of the keeper to put the Eagles up 1-0.

The Salukis responded shortly after with a goal of their own, however, tying the score 1-1,  24 minutes into play. 

Eagle freshman goalkeeper Grace Gaffney was able to deflect a shot from freshman forward Emma Spotak, which freshman forward Madison Meiring was able to locate to put up the goal, her first of the season. 

The Salukis looked to score off of four corner kick opportunities put up by freshman midfielder Madison Bennion near the 33-minute mark in the first half, but were unable to put the ball past the Eagles’ defense.

The Salukis tallied a total of seven shots in the first half, three on goal, while Morehead State lead with eight, three on goal as well.

Spotak and Meiring lead the Saluki offense putting up three shots each in the half, while Eagle junior midfielder Katie Quinn lead Morehead State with three as well.

The score remained tied going into the second half.

Freshman goalkeeper Maddy Alaluf, started out the second half for the Salukis, and recorded a save off an Eagle shot in the first few minutes of resumed play. 

Defensive efforts from both Morehead State and Southern Illinois kept shots on goal from both teams to a minimum in the first part of the second half. 

Alaluf recorded her third save of the match at the 74-minute mark off of a close shot from Eagle junior midfielder Katie Kiolbassa. 

The Salukis responded quickly with another shot from Meiring, deflected by Gaffney, with 14 minutes remaining. Meiring would total five shots for the game, spearheading the Saluki offense. 

Both the Salukis and the Eagles put up five shots total on goal in the second half, but with none finding their way into the back of the net, play continued into overtime, still tied at 1-1.

Just three minutes into overtime play, the Salukis were able to execute a scoring opportunity off a free kick from sophomore midfielder and defender Ellie Lewis, which gave the Salukis the win. The goal was also her first of the season, coming off of her first recorded shot.

“I think the team battled really hard [for] more than 90 minutes and it just came at an opportune time. I’m glad we got [the goal] in when we did,” Lewis said. “Going into overtime, it’s a tough situation, but I think we’ve proved that we can keep up with anyone at that point.”

Williams said that the late goal came due to his team’s constant efforts to be prepared to make a play.

“At any given moment, you’re going to have to make a play on either side of the ball. It could be anybody,” Williams commented. “We didn’t draw it up that Ellie was going to score on a bouncing free kick in a crowd of people, but she did what we asked her to do: put the ball in a place that gives us a chance. And lo and behold, it ends up in the back of the net.”

Both the Eagles and the Salukis made frequent substitutions throughout the match. Williams had challenged his team following Friday’s game to maximize their time on the field.

“My challenge to them was to, regardless of the result, feel good about the work that you put in, whether it’s a minute or 45 minutes or whatever,” Williams said. “I thought today the collective effort of anybody that was on the field was positive, and that gives you a chance to get a result.”

Southern Illinois will take the field next on Thursday, September 19 at home. The Salukis will look to record their fifth win against the Lipscomb University Bisons at the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex, with the game starting at 6 PM.

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25

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