4 very different paths merge in OVC tournament

Adam Tumino, Women's Soccer Reporter

The four programs that are competing in the semi-finals of the OVC Tournament on Friday are each on very different trajectories in recent years.

The top seed Tennessee-Martin enters the tournament after posting the best OVC record since 2015. They went 9-0-1 in conference this year, but recent seasons have yielded inconsistent results.

The last season they finished in first place was 2013, and have jumped around the standings since. They finished in fourth in 2014, fifth in 2015, last in 2016 and sixth last season.

Their jump to first place this season, after being last just two years ago, is similar to what Murray State did during a three-year stretch from 2012 to 2015.

Murray State finished in last place in 2012, moved up to ninth place in 2013 and jumped to third place in 2014. In 2015 they went 10-0 in OVC play to earn the number-one seed. They were the top seed in 2016 and 2017 as well before finishing in second this season.

Time will tell if Tennessee-Martin can match this trend in the next few years.

Eastern, which will face Murray State in the first semifinal match, has not had the recent success boasted by the Racers.

Eastern finished in 10th place in 2014 and then dropped to last place the next year.

They followed that trend in 2016 and 2017, finishing in 10th and last place respectively.

The jump up to third this year came as a surprise to the rest of the OVC, who in a preseason poll selected Eastern to once again finish in last place.

They are in the OVC Tournament for the first time since 2013, when they were the five seed.

And now Eastern Kentucky is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the OVC Tournament. The Colonels finished ninth in 2014, narrowly missing the postseason.

They climbed up a spot in 2015, finishing in eighth. 2016 saw them jump up the the second seed behind Murray State.

Eastern Kentucky has dropped a position each year since, earning the three seed in 2017 and then the four seed this season.

Historically, each of the teams in the semifinals has matched up evenly with their opponent.

Murray State leads the all-time series against Eastern 9-8-4 after beating the Panthers 2-1 on Sept. 21.

Tennessee-Martin leads Eastern Kentucky 8-6-2 all-time. Eastern Kentucky had won the previous three matchups before this season, when Tennessee-Martin won 3-1 on Oct. 19.

But the past will not matter to any of these programs once the matches kickoff on Friday. Previous matchups and records can be thrown out the window.

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]