The Eastern women’s soccer team finished its 2015 campaign with a 4-13-2 record after defeating Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 1-0.
During the season, Eastern was more efficient on their home field with a 4-4-1 record, which included three shutouts.
Coach Jason Cherry said he and his team preferred playing at home throughout the year.
“I’d take playing at home over on the road any day,” Cherry said. “The players like being able to stay on campus and it’s nice playing before our supporters.”
While at home, Eastern allowed less goals and scored more as compared to their performance on the road.
Eastern scored 11 goals and allowed 15 in their nine home games. In their 10 road games, they scored just four goals and allowed 29.
Through the majority of the season, freshman goalkeeper Maddie Lyon was efficient for her team.
“I thought she played outstanding this season,” Cherry said. “Maddie (Lyon) made a ton of great saves throughout the season. It’s hard for a freshman keeper to step in and play but she handled it well.”
Lyon’s 129 saves, 7.59 per game, led the Ohio Valley Conference by a wide margin. Her 80 percent save rate and four shutouts placed her at fifth in the conference in both categories.
Cherry said he saw improvement, as the season went on, in every aspect of Lyon’s play and that it may be enough to earn her the starting job next season.
“She’d be a frontrunner because of the experience she got this year,” Cherry said. “I know I will have three other keepers working extremely hard to take that starting spot though.”
The Panthers’ strength on offense, as with most teams, was their forwards.
Seniors Molly Hawkins, with seven goals, and Hannah Miller, with five goals, were the team’s two leading scorers. They also combined 86 shot attempts on the season.
Rounding out the scoring were junior forward Kathleen MacKinnon, sophomore defender Carrie Caplin and sophomore midfielder Ali Carlson, who added one goal each during the season.
Sharing the ball was a priority for Eastern as almost all of their goals, 14 of 15, were the result of an assist.
Cherry said this was a result of his team’s chemistry and respect for the game.
“They are a very unselfish group,” Cherry said. “They want what’s best for the team rather than their own stat sheet.”
MacKinnon’s three assists led the team. Hawkins and freshman midfielder Kaci Schonert added two assists each and a number of players also contributed an assist of their own to the box score.
Cherry said his team improved this season in comparison to last year.
“Of course we wish that we were still playing right now,” Cherry said. “But I thought we improved from a year ago. I believe that we were better than what our record shows.”
Eastern is losing seven seniors, including both of its leading scorers, Hawkins and Miller.
Seniors Briana Hickman, Karlee Deacon, Bianca Naveias, Hannah Vieth, and student assistant coach Cortney Jerzy will also be lost to graduation.
Cherry said he and his team are still looking ahead to next season and are already setting goals for themselves.
“We need to go to work,” Cherry said. “We need to keep improving in every facet of the game is we expect to be compete for a championship.”
Cherry said players like MacKinnon, Carlson, Schonert and sophomore forward Chloe Gottschalk are players who he expects to improve and have an impact next season.
As far expectations for next season, Cherry said it’s not a priority, yet.
“It’s probably too early to tell,” Cherry said. “But I do expect us to keep improving. We have a bright future.”
Elias Albert can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]