Panthers enter OVC play with 8 goals

Dominic Renzetti, Assistant Sports Editor

Not only is the Eastern women’s soccer team heading into Ohio Valley Conference play with more wins than it did last year, it also has more goals.

The Panthers scored just twice last season before their opener against Belmont. This season, the Panthers have scored a total of eight times in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Eastern just won its first non-conference match since 2012, beating Chicago State 2-0 on Sunday. Junior forward Hannah Miller had both goals in the win.

Eastern takes on Southeast Missouri at 3 p.m. Friday at Lakeside Field. Since 2007, Eastern is 3-3-1 in its OVC season openers. The last time Eastern played Southeast Missouri in its first conference match of the season was 2009, when the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Eastern’s win over Chicago State marks the first time since 2009 that the Panthers are entering the OVC schedule coming off a win. Eastern beat Western Illinois, 1-0 in overtime on Sept. 24, 2009. Current Eastern head coach Jason Cherry was then an assistant at Western.

This will be Eastern’s first conference opener at Lakeside Field since 2011, when the Panthers beat Tennessee Tech 2-0.

The Panthers are coming off their first shutout since Oct. 6, 2013, against Eastern Kentucky, when they won 1-0 at Lakeside Field. The Panthers have not had back-to-back shutouts since that weekend when they shutout Morehead State 1-0 on Oct. 4 before beating Eastern Kentucky two days later. Eastern recorded a shutout in its OVC-opener last season, beating Belmont 1-0 in overtime.

Red-shirt junior Chris Reed enters the OVC portion of the schedule as the Panthers’ leading scorer with four goals this season. Reed scored in four straight matches from Aug. 31 to Sept. 14. Miller is second with two, while senior Meagan Radloff and red-shirt sophomore Lindsey Marino have one each.

Entering the OVC schedule last year, Miller had one goal, along with one from Madison Carter. This season, Carter has played close to 300 minutes, but has not registered a shot. Radloff, last year’s leading scorer, did not record any of her goals until the start of the OVC schedule.

Southeast Missouri is 3-2-2 in its OVC openers since 2007. The Redhawks finished 8-7-3 last season, losing in the first round of the OVC tournament. Southeast Missouri was back-to-back OVC tournament champions in 2006 and 2007, but since then has only made it out of the first round once, in 2011, losing in the second round.

Eastern lost in the first round of the OVC tournament last year after missing the tournament in 2012. The Panthers have not made it out of the first round since 2010.

Dominic Renzetti can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].