Scoring was the big challenge for Eastern’s women’s soccer team in the second half of the season, but something else has helped eliminate the Panthers from the OVC tournament this season: the second half of their matches.
So far this season, the second half of matches have not been kind to the Panthers. Eastern’s opponents have gotten more chances to score and win in the second half of matches than in the first half, which has hurt Eastern at times.
Opponents have scored 16 goals in the second half, as compared to seven in the first half. Eastern has scored less in the second half than in the first half, nine goals compared to seven goals.
Eastern’s opponents have fired off 11 more shots in the second half than in the first half (119-108), and opponents have 52 corner kicks taken against the Panthers in the second half of matches, 12 more than the first-half total.
Three times this season, twice recently in conference matches, the Panthers have had the lead or have been tied in the first half, then lost the match in the second half in two of those situations.
Against Fort Wayne Sept. 8, Eastern had a 2-0 lead in the first half but lost the lead in the second half after the Mastodons scored two goals in 28 seconds in the 79th minute. Junior midfielder Kate Olson scored the game-winning goal in overtime for Eastern that day.
Against Morehead State Oct. 1, Eastern was tied 1-1 going into the second half, before giving up two goals in the second half and losing 3-1.
Then against Tennessee-Martin Oct. 15, freshman defender Haley Tausend gave Eastern a 1-0 lead in the first half, but similarly to the Fort Wayne match, the Skyhawks scored two goals in under a minute and took the lead, ultimately winning 2-1 over Eastern.
Olson said she does not think the team plays worse in the second half, adding that some of the team’s best soccer is played in the second half.
“I just think we try to be so offensive minded when down a goal or when we finally have shooting opportunities, that sometimes we lose focus at certain moments that cost us goals on defense.”
While the Panthers managed to win against Fort Wayne, the two losses to the conference opponents in Tennessee-Martin and Morehead State eliminated the Panthers from the OVC tournament.
As it stands, Eastern is last in the OVC with one conference point, earned in a 1-1 tie with Tennessee Tech Oct. 8.
Each game in conference play is important to try and get a spot in the OVC tournament, which takes the top eight teams in the conference. Between the two losses, Eastern also lost to Jacksonville State and Southeast Missouri.
Wins in the two matches Eastern was close in would have given them seven conference points and put the team closer to a tournament berth. The seven conference points would have made Eastern tied for last with Morehead State, and Eastern would only be two points behind Jacksonville State and Austin Peay who are neck-and-neck for the last tournament spot with 9 conference points.
Thursday is the last match of the season for the Panthers and they play the Murray State Racers, who are first in the OVC. It is a home match for the Racers, who are led by senior Harriet Withers, who has 12 goals this season.
Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]