Eastern is 2-9-2 on the season following a 0-0 draw with Jacksonville State this past Sunday. The draw ended a three-game losing streak within Ohio Valley Conference play.
The Panthers are now 11th in conference standings with one point through four games. They have scored two goals since conference play began, which is good for a tie at eighth in the conference.
A true bright spot for Eastern has been the consistent play of freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lyon.
In addition to her first shutout of conference play on Sunday, Lyon is first in the OVC in total saves, both in non-conference and conference play.
She has allowed 10 of her 34 faced shots on goal to reach the net, giving her a save rate of about 70 percent, within conference.
The defense has seen an improvement as conference play has gone a bit deeper.
In their first two games, the Eastern defense allowed eight goals off of 47 total shots. In the last two, they’ve allowed just two goals off of 30 shots, thus emphasizing the relationship between shots allowed and goal allowed.
Probably more defining are the shot-on-goal numbers. Eastern has allowed just 12 combined in the last two games, as compared to 22 in the previous pair.
The weekend wasn’t necessarily promising for Eastern on the offensive end however.
They were held scoreless for the second time since the start of the conference schedule.
Reasoning behind the offensive woes may be due to the fact that certain players, amongst the whole team, weren’t able to get into position to try to score.
Senior forward Molly Hawkins, who put together a non-conference body of work to put her among the top scorers in the nation, has been held in check in conference play.
Eastern coach Jason Cherry has mentioned before that he thinks teams are beginning to set up a game plan and scheme in an attempt to slow her down.
Before the OVC schedule, Hawkins managed to post a team-leading seven goals. She has since been held scoreless since entering conference play.
She has also been held to just one shot per game, which is a direct reflection of the drop in her production and defensive strategy against her.
Senior forward Hannah Miller has a productive start to the season as well, but has been able to hold onto that momentum.
Miller’s lone goal in conference play has her tied for the team lead with defender Carrie Caplin, who has a 50 percent shot-to-goal conversion rate off of just two shots.
However, efficiency is still a point of emphasis for Eastern on offense. Despite struggling to score at times, they are still taking intelligent shots when the opportunity arises.
Of their 30 total shots in OVC play, 14 of them have been on goal. That is good for a shot-on-goal rate of 47 percent, compared to their opponents at 44 percent.
Eastern has also played a cleaner game than their opponents recently.
They have showed composure and discipline as of late with just one booking, compared to their conference opponents combining to earn three yellows and one red card against them.
Eastern is showing some improvement, especially when looking at the numbers.
What may be a factor of additional improvement over the next handful of games may be the fact that the team will play their next three games at home.
They’ll host Tennessee Tech, Morehead State, and Eastern Kentucky. Those teams, as of right now, have records of 3-0, 2-1 and 1-3, respectively.
Elias Albert can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]