Exhibition loss shows signs of success

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After taking a 1-0 exhibition loss to defending Missouri Valley Conference champs Evansville on Saturday, Eastern’s women’s head soccer coach Steve Ballard is pleased with his team as it heads into its season opener Friday at Valparaiso.

“I feel that we represented very well,” Ballard said. “Not just for Eastern, but for the Ohio Valley Conference as well. Evansville is ranked No. 1 this year in the MVC and we played very well with them.”

Eastern got off to a slow start getting outshot 13-1. This was partly because of Ballard making several substitutions early. The lone goal came nearly 32 minutes into the game as the two teams played even the rest of the day.

“The 13-1 shot ratio is very deceiving,” Ballard said. “We subbed early. About 25 minutes into the game we brought in 10 new players. It’s hard to come off the bench and play well immediately.”

Most of the substitutions throughout the game were in an effort to settle a few position questions. One of the main questions is at goaltender where Eastern has three freshman vying for the same spot in Lindsay Dechert, Lynne Goehler, and Tiffany Groene, who is temporarily out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her knee.

“Right now I feel very comfortable at goal,” Ballard said. “Dechert and Goehler both do a good job and Groene should be on par with them when she comes back.”

The Panthers are putting a lot of pressure on themselves at the start of the season.

“We are treating the Valparaiso game as a must-win game,” Ballard said. “I know it is a lot of pressure to be putting on the girls already, but we have a very tough schedule before we begin conference play.”

Overall, Ballard is satisfied with where his team is at.

“I am extremely pleased with the way we played,” he said. “I think that Evansville’s coach Mick Lyons was very impressed with us. This is going to be a very special season for us.”