Panthers hope to play spoiler in final week

Dominic Renzetti, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s soccer team heads to Kentucky this weekend for its final two matches of the 2014 season. The Panthers take on Eastern Kentucky on Friday and Morehead State on Sunday. Both matches start at noon and are available for streaming on the OVC Digital Network.

The Panthers and Eastern Kentucky are both out of the running for making the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, but despite the two teams’ shortcomings this season, Eastern head coach Jason Cherry knows it will still be a competitive match.

“Eastern Kentucky will be a good team,” Cherry said. “I know they’re struggling a bit, like us right now to find a result, so I think it’s going to be a hard fought battle. Every game in the OVC can go either way.”

Eastern Kentucky comes in with a record of 1-6-1, identical to the Panthers. Sophomore forward Cassie Smith leads the Colonels with six goals so far this season. Smith, who was an All-OVC Freshman team selection last season, scored five goals in her first season last year.

Freshman Anna Hall has seen the majority of minutes in goal for the Colonels, posting a 2.19 goals against average in 17 matches.

Cherry said strategy-wise, the Colonels play a similar formation and style to teams the Panthers have seen in the past.

“They’re pretty athletic, but I like our chances,” he said. “We’re going to go there and fight like we always do and compete and I’m looking forward to watching us play.”

In Sunday’s match at Morehead State, the Panthers are hoping to play the role of spoiler. Morehead State has 10 points in the OVC standings, currently in sixth place, making the Eagles the last team in the tournament.

“Morehead State, they’re a very athletic team and fighting for the tournament and I would love to beat them and knock them out, to be honest,” Cherry said. “That’s what we’re fighting for.”

The Panthers beat Morehead State 1-0 last season at Lakeside Field on a goal from Meagan Radloff. The Eagles lost three OVC matches last season, but found their groove later in the tournament, upsetting top-seeded Tennessee-Martin and earning a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Eagles lost to Wake Forest in the first round, but a loss to Eastern this weekend could eliminate any hope of a repeat.

“I think that’d be pretty great, to spoil it for someone else,” red-shirt junior Chris Reed said. “I think this week, we’re kind of sad to see our seniors go and we know we have nothing to lose, but I think how we competed this past weekend, if we compete like that, we can beat either of those teams. I think we’re just kind of going out there like we have nothing to lose.”

Morehead State comes with one of OVC’s top goal scorers in senior Jade Flory. The Youngstown State transfer in her second season with the Eagles has 11 goals so far this season.

Red-shirt junior goalkeeper Elizabeth Floyd has seen the majority of time in goal for the Eagles, but was pulled after giving up two goals in the first half to Southeast Missouri in the team’s last match. Red-shirt junior Kaitlynn Murphy replaced Floyd.

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