The MTSU soccer team continued its winning ways over the weekend with two more Sun Belt Conference wins.
Paige Goeglein (12) was credited with an assist in the Blue Raiders win over South Alabama when, at the 72nd minute, Allison Stallard scored an equalizer off a free kick attempt.
The Blue Raiders got started on Friday night with a 3-1 home victory against Troy. Two days later, MTSU faced South Alabama in a matinee match, which was played under windy and rainy conditions. The Blue Raiders trailed for most of the match, but came from behind to win 2-1.
“I was really proud of how resilient the players were; South Alabama was a very strong team,” MTSU head coach Aston Rhoden said after the win. “Our girls stuck to the game plan. It was brilliant.”
With the two home wins over the weekend, the Blue Raiders extended their conference winning streak to eight on the season. It’s the best start since the 2006, in which MTSU also had an eight-match winning streak.
“It was really big,” senior defender Allison Stallard said. “Our goal is to win conference and this was another step toward it. It was definitely a challenge, but we worked hard and prevailed.”
At the 1 p.m. kickoff, winds were above 20 miles per hour on a cloudy, raw day. The high winds affected the flight of the ball, especially during passes and shots on goal by both teams.
The Lady Jags got the board first in the 40th minute of the match, when South Alabama junior midfielder Clarissa Hernandez lofted a shot over freshman MTSU goalkeeper Kelsey Brouwer from 40 yards out to give the Lady Jags a 1-nil advantage.
In the second half, MTSU scored two goals in 25 seconds to put them ahead for the first time in the match. The first goal came when Stallard converted a free kick from outside the 18-yard box in the 72nd minute.
“We practice it a lot, and when I got up there, I said I got to hit it to the right, and it was on it,” Stallard said.
MTSU freshman forward and former Siegel star Tori Hawkins added, “Stallard makes those everyday in practice and it never changes. She nails them and never fails.”
After the kickoff, the Blue Raiders got the ball inside the six-yard box, but the South Alabama goalkeeper made the first save. Then, she could not hang on to it. Hawkins got the loose ball and tapped it past the Lady Jag goalkeeper to give the Blue Raiders a 2-1 advantage.
“We knew the (South Alabama) goalkeeper fumbled a lot in the first half, and Whitney (Jorgenson) has been working on turning and shooting a lot. As soon as she turns we knew had to follow it. That is something we have been working on is following our shots.”
South Alabama had a chance to tie the match in the final seconds, but its header went wide of the goal, and the Blue Raiders escaped with the win.
A couple of days earlier, the Blue Raiders got a hat trick last Friday night from senior midfielder Paige Goeglein in the 3-1 win. She now has 14 goals on the season, and she is ranked in the fourth in single season goals scored in school history.
Next week, the Blue Raiders head to North Texas for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 18.
It will be a matchup between the top two teams in the SBC. North Texas is also undefeated in SBC play, but the Mean Green has played a league match which ended in a tie. The Blue Raiders knows the importance of the match, which could decide the league title.
“We definite know North Texas is the team to beat in the SBC, it has always been that way,” Hawkins said. “We hate them, so it’s definitely going to be amped up with a harder practice. This is for the title. Everybody knows the pressure with this match, but we handle the pressure pretty well.”
It will be the final regular season meeting between the schools as conference rivals. Next year, the Mean Green will be a Conference USA member.