Radloff, Reed lead women’s soccer’s early season offense

Dominic Renzetti, Assistant Sports Editor

Eastern women soccer players Meagan Radloff and Chris Reed both had the same thing to say after each of this weekend’s matches: they must have something going on.

Radloff assisted Reed in scoring in Friday’s match against Missouri-Kansas City, then set up what would be a penalty shot goal for Reed in Sunday’s match against IUPUI, both at Lakeside Field.

“(Reed) always comes and checks to me when I’m looking for her and I know she’ll always get ahead on the ball if I send it in,” Radloff said after Sunday’s match. “We have something going on, I guess.”

Reed said the same thing when describing her goal against Missouri-Kansas City.

“[Radloff] shot it and it hit off the crossbar, I don’t know if the goalie tipped it or not, but it bounced back out and I just headed it into the corner,” Reed said. “Got something good going on with Meagan, I guess.”

Reed’s goal against Missouri-Kansas City was her second of the season, with the first coming against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 31. The assist came from Radloff. Reed added her third goal of the season on Sunday against IUPUI.

Radloff and Reed have accounted for 100 percent of the Panthers’ offense so far this season, with all four goals coming between them. Radloff and Reed are also accounting for more than a quarter of all shots taken by the Panthers so far this season, with the two combining for 17 of the team’s total 45 shots, equaling about 38 percent. Radloff has the team’s highest shot total with 10, while Reed sits close behind in second with seven.

Despite the production on offense, the Panthers are still winless in six matches into the 2014 non-conference schedule. Even without a notch in the win column, the Panthers steady streak of scoring at least once in their last three matches is a promising sign.

The Panthers’ four goals in six matches tops not only their performance from the first six non-conference matches of last season, but of the entire 2013 non-conference schedule.

Eastern scored just two goals in nine non-conference matches in 2013, scoring one in the season opener against Oakland and one in the non-conference finale against Valparaiso. During that stretch, the Panthers were shutout in seven straight matches and gave up at least three goals in five of those matches.

It was during the Ohio Valley Conference portion of the schedule last year that Eastern saw its surge in offensive production, with 13 goals scored against conference opponents, including a four-goal performance against Tennessee Tech.

Eastern head coach Jason Cherry said he thinks the Panthers have been in every match except one so far this season. He said if the team can minimalize its mistakes, it could be bound to make some noise in the OVC again this year.

“We just need to keep practicing and working on those mistakes,” he said after Sunday’s loss. “If we do that, I think we’re going to be really tough to play in the OVC.”

Cherry said he hopes to have those issues worked out before the team begins conference play on Sept. 26 against Southeast Missouri at Lakeside Field.

Even with the recent hot streaks of Radloff and Reed, part of that success could hinge on the health of two players who were hurt this weekend.

Freshman defender Gabby Mclaurin was injured during warm-ups before Friday’s match against Missouri-Kansas City and team captain Lauren Hoppensteadt left the field on crutches early in the first half Sunday against IUPUI. Mclaurin sat out both matches this weekend. Both were ankle injuries and Cherry said both players would be evaluated this week.

Hoppensteadt took a medical red-shirt in the 2012 season after suffering an injury, but was able to bounce back in 2013 to make the All-OVC second team, playing 1,392 minutes and scoring one goal.

Mclaurin, a freshman from Barrington, had appeared in each match before Friday, seeing extended minutes against Marshall and Louisiana Tech, where she logged 30 and 40 minutes, respectively. The only freshman to see more minutes in those two matches was fellow defender and high school teammate Carrie Caplin, who played 65 and 70 minutes against Marshall and Louisiana Tech, respectively.

The Panthers have just one match this weekend, hosting Wisconsin-Green Bay at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Dominic Renzetti (@DomRenzetti) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]