Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News
The Eastern women’s soccer team ended their regular season last week on Thursday with a 3-0 loss against Austin Peay. That meant the Panthers had to wait for the result of last Sunday’s match between the Governors and Murray State to see if they would be making the OVC Tournament. An Austin Peay loss or draw ensured that Eastern would make it.
With Austin Peay taking a 1-0 loss against Murray State, Eastern officially made it into the tournament. Now, they have their sights set on getting as far as they can go and contending for the OVC title.
However, Eastern enters as the eighth seed, and they are joining a whole host of teams in this tournament that have proven to be very competitive this year. Many of these teams have even given Eastern difficulties throughout the regular season.
The official OVC regular season standings finished with Tennessee-Martin in first place with a 6-2 record, followed by Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (who has the same record) and Belmont at second and third place.
Murray State, Tennessee Tech, Morehead State and Southeast Missouri all file in at fourth through seventh place. At eighth enters Eastern with a 2-5-1 conference record.
Three teams lead the way offensively in the OVC, with Southern Illinois-Edwardsville leading in most offensive statistical categories. They are followed closely by Murray State and Tennessee-Martin in most of these areas.
However, Tennessee-Martin finished looking like the well-balanced team they appeared to be earlier this season as their defense continued to shine. They have the lowest goals-against-average (0.91 per game) and goals allowed (15 this whole season). They are a complete team who has proven difficult for a variety of OVC teams.
Eastern goalkeeper Faith Davies ended her impressive regular-season campaign leading the OVC in highest save total (90) and saves-per-game average (5.62). She will be an integral part of Eastern’s post-season efforts as she looks to anchor down the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, the Panthers have shown flashes of excellence. Six players found the back of the net for the Panthers this season, including forward Zenaya Barnes, who had three goals this season. Barnes finished among the top fifteen scorers at the end of the OVC regular season. It’s an offense that looks more effective than last season’s.
However, while Eastern has shown flashes of good offense, they will need everything they’ve got in this tournament. Eastern is 2-5-1 against OVC opponents, meaning they haven’t been able to consistently dominate against teams in the conference just yet.
With the regular season officially over, Eastern has done enough to qualify for the tournament. However, the regular season is a thing of the past, now. At this moment, it’s time for the Panthers to kick it into high gear as they fight to survive and win in the OVC Tournament.
The Panthers will play against Tennessee Tech this Friday at 2 p.m. in Murray, Kentucky, with the winner of that match facing either Belmont or Murray State.
Nick Bays can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]