The monkey is finally off the Eastern women’s soccer team’s back as the Panthers lead a comeback against Chicago State for the team’s first win of the season.
On paper, it seemed like a bit of a trap game for Eastern.
Chicago State has not won a match since the 2017 season as the Cougars entered the contest today with a 0-39-1 record in their last 40 games.
If the Panthers won, they did what they were supposed to do, while if they lost, they dropped a winnable match.
What unfolded proved a lot more than a 3-1 win over a fumbling opponent might seem to.
After going down a goal in the first half, the pressure was on for Eastern to respond with some offense in order to get the win, and head coach Jake Plant said the difference in the two halves was less in the play itself and more about the result.
“Really the only thing I said to the girls at halftime was to carry on doing what they’re doing,” Plant said. “I think the score line can definitely make people think ‘oh my goodness, you’re one-nil down, you must be playing terribly.’ The things we’ve worked on all week were showing. We just needed more rhythm and over time, if they were stubborn, and kept doing it, kept plugging away, we knew as a team that the goals were going to come.”
The box score agreed with Plant, as Eastern recorded 9 shots in both periods and senior goalkeeper Sara Teteak managed exactly one save in both as well.
The difference was the quick barrage of offense that produced three goals in under seven minutes of game clock from freshman Nicoletta Anuci, senior Lexi Ketterhagen and senior Sarah DeWolf.
To get to that point, though, the Panthers had to quash some minor bumps throughout the contest.
For example, Anuci got caught offsides on multiple possible scoring chances before staying patient enough to run a quick attack alongside junior Haylee Renick who returned after being sidelined the previous two matches.
Showing adaptability during games will be pivotal for OVC play, as Eastern faces Tennessee-Martin this week.
Starting a season 1-4 may not be ideal, but Plant said that seeing growth is vital to the team.
“The good thing about college soccer is it’s sort of a long season, so even if you’re not in rhythm by week one, as long as you’re trending up, you should be peaking at conference tournament time which is how we’ve always set this team up to play,” Plant said.
Well, it’s crunch time as conference regular season play gets underway, and now, with a win under their belts, the Panthers get to dig into the rest of the season.
Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]