Eastern women’s soccer team waits for season opener as conference gets going

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor

The Daily Eastern News
Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News
Nicoletta Anuci tracks down a long pass from a teammate during the Eastern women’s soccer team’s 1-1 exhibition match draw against Northern Illinois Friday at Lakeside Field.

The Eastern women’s soccer team does not get its season underway until Friday, but a handful of its conference competitors will add a number to the win-loss column Thursday.

The reigning OVC champion Murray State Racers kick off the year Thursday at 3 p.m. as the team plays host to Xavier.

Murray State returns 15 players from its first-place roster last season as it looks to prove the OVC preseason poll, which selected the Racers to win the conference in 2019, correct.

The Racers’ main topic of interest remains who will be the starting goalkeeper, after the team lost long-time foothold Alex Steigerwald for the season.

Freshman Jamie Skarupsky spent the majority of time in net during Murray State’s exhibition against Western Kentucky last weekend, surrendering two goals and recording five saves in just under 80 minutes.

Xavier may not be anything to sneeze at, though, as the Musketeers secured 10 wins last season, the highest mark for the team since 2003.

Also at 3 p.m., Eastern Kentucky is the only team that hits the road for the OVC Thursday as the Colonels head to Athens to take on the Ohio Bobcats.

Eastern Kentucky did not fare well against teams from the state of Ohio this preseason, however, as the Colonels allowed three goals in a tie with Dayton and followed that with a four-goal, shutout loss to Miami (Ohio).

The saving grace for Eastern Kentucky is that those games do not end up in the record, and last season’s 8-8-4 overall clip led to the Colonels being selected to finish third overall in the conference.

Ahead of Eastern Kentucky in the preseason poll is Tennessee-Martin, which gets its season underway Thursday at 7 p.m. against Arkansas State.

The projected two-seed in the conference is 7-4-1 all-time against the Red Wolves and manages a 4-1 record against Arkansas State at home.

The Skyhawks put up a program-high 15 wins en route to the OVC regular season championship but fell to Murray State in the tournament finals.

One of the teams on the lower end of OVC pecking order, Morehead State, gets a chance to find its feet early as well as the Eagles host Butler at 6 p.m.

Eastern’s team can only watch Thursday before hitting the field against Ball State Friday at 4 p.m.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].