By the numbers: Eastern, OVC fighting down the stretch

Tom O'Connor, Women's Soccer Reporter

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The Daily Eastern News
Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News
Lindsey Carlson posts up defensively on a ball handler to keep them from turning forward with the ball. Eastern defeated Morehead State 3-0 Sunday at Lakeside Field.

It is readily evident that the top tier of playoff-caliber teams has surfaced, as two teams have all but clinched postseason berths with the postseason only three weeks away.

A much larger faction of Ohio Valley Conference teams is left in a much more tenuous position.

Six teams, including Eastern, Tennessee Tech and Southern Illinois Edwardsville, share the fourth seed in the standings. How long, exactly, will it take for the playoff pyramid to shape up?

They have until Halloween, at the very latest, to safeguard their status as championship contenders in a top-heavy conference.

Here are a few intriguing numbers to unpack with the playoffs looming.

73

Senior Sara Teteak has actively prevented more shots on goal than any other keeper in the OVC with 73 saves in 11 matches of play.

She is on pace to outdistance Zoe Aguire’s save total from a year ago, when she came up with 92 over the course of the regular season and then went on to collect 19 in the Colonels’ playoff run that fell apart in the semifinals.

For every match, Teteak has snatched an average of six saves. With five matches left this season, Teteak, should she keep offenses in check at the rate she has to this point, will close out the season with the most saves since 2016, back when she set a career high of 112 in what was the first season of her collegiate career.

20

Speaking of Teteak, Eastern ranks 20th out of 335 Division I women’s soccer teams in saves per match at the conclusion of last weekend’s matches.

The Panthers are the only OVC team to appear in the top 70, among a number of teams that belong to any one of the power five conferences.

Southern Illinois, who the Panthers host on the front end of a pair of matches this weekend, has been situated two spots ahead of Eastern heading into the weekend.

3

Murray State sophomore Abby Jones dished more assists than every other player in the OVC and is tied for third in the NCAA, just two assists less than the frontrunner, Texas A&M Junior Jimena Lopez.

Jones and Miyah Watford dish out more assists than any duo in the conference, part of the reason why Murray State has posted the fifth-most goals in the NCAA.

12

No OVC player has averaged two or more goals per match since Austin Peay’s Tatiana Ariza posted 2.17 in 2011.

Ariza now plays for the national team of her native Columbia and, when not engaged in international competition, suits up for Elpides Kartitsas of the Greek A Division, the country’s preeminent soccer league.

Watford will become the first OVC player to generate that sort of efficiency in the penalty box, provided that she maintains her point production output for the final five matches on the Racers’ schedule.

For a player to churn out two goals each game for three-quarters of a season, what could possibly cast any suspicion on her chances of doing so the rest of the way?

Murray State’s strength of schedule features a rather glaring dichotomy between the consistent, playoff-bound Bruins and the winless Gamecocks.

They remain the only undefeated conference team in the OVC, so Watford may get the 10 goals she needs to be considered, for the sake of argument, one of the most accomplished forwards in the history of the league.

As part of an offense that has outpaced all other teams when it comes to assists, there will certainly be no shortage of opportunities as the Racers prime themselves for what could amount to be their third consecutive championship.

Of course, there cannot be any guarantees in the Racers’ hunt for hardware, as their placement atop the standings could potentially be at risk, susceptible to the unforeseen upset of any one of its five remaining opponents.

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]