MURRAY — Murray State women’s soccer concluded their two-game road trip against Missouri on Thursday evening. While the Racers put together a thrilling comeback after facing a first-half deficit, they came up just short in the end – falling to the Tigers 2-1, at Audrey J. Walton Soccer Stadium in Columbia, Missouri.
Now, they return home to Cutchin Field on Sunday to face off against another SEC opponent, Ole Miss. The last time the two teams squared off was during the NCAA tournament and the Rebels eliminated the Racers with ease.
Senior Miyah Watford will be relied once again to create chances for herself and her teammates much like she did in the opening minutes against the Tigers on Thursday. She had a pair of shots in the opening stages, but the Tigers were the first team on the scoreboard when Julissa Cisneros finished her opportunity in the 12th minute of the match.
This is something the Racers can’t afford to let happen on Sunday. Murray State is 0-2 when not scoring first this season with losses to Missouri and Northern Kentucky.
The remainder of the first half between the Racers and Tigers was a physical battle that saw both teams turn in impressive defensive shifts as there were just four combined shots on target through the first half of play.
It was a good sign for the Racers who were once again without their normal starting back line as Karsyn Hasch continues to nurse an injury. Freshman Lilly Strader moved from her midfield spot to a left back position for the game against the Tigers as well and was stellar, once again proving her versatility and skill.
Trailing 1-0 entering the second half of the evening, The Racers reclaimed momentum when Symone Cooper equalized for Murray State in the 55th minute. Abby Jones would slot a ball back towards the top of the penalty area that ended with a one-time finish from Cooper across the right side of goal to bring the game level at 1-1.
The goal by Cooper was another good sign for the Racers. this time on the ofensive side as they continue to get production fro virtually every attacker on the field. She became the fifth player to score for the Racers so far this year and there are still a couple of players that will likely get one in by the end of the season.
With both sides exchanging more offensive chances through the final half hour of the match, the tie would not be broken until the 80th minute, when the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick for a hand ball on an entry ball from the right side. Converting the penalty would be Missouri’s Madison Lewis as she put her side in front 2-1 with just 10 minutes left to play.
The Racers had a promising opportunity to even the game with just six minutes left to go when they were fouled just outside the Missouri penalty area, but the ensuing Abby Jones free kick was saved. The Tigers were able to cling to a one-goal margin for the remaining minutes to escape with a 2-1 victory. Missouri, who received top-25 votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Poll, remained unbeaten in 2019.
“I was really proud of the group. I love the way we competed. This a tough place and Missouri is a fantastic team. To come back out at halftime, get the goal back, and really put them on the back foot – I really thought we were the best team in the second half,” said MSU head coach Matt Lodge.
The Racers and Tigers both had an even five shots on goal, while Murray State recorded 11 total shots overall.
Symone Cooper’s goal in the 55th was her first of the season, while the assist from Abby Jones gives her three points (one goal, one assist) to open the 2019 campaign.
The Racers will be back in action on Sunday when they return home to host Channing Foster and the Ole Miss Rebels. Foster, a former Murray High and Graves County soccer star, leads the rebels with four goals on the year. The Rebels have five other players with one goal each.
They also boast a solid defense and have recorded three shutouts in their first five games. The last time the two teams met the Rebels shutout the Racers. Kickoff on Sunday is slated for 2:00 p.m. on the hill at Cutchin Field.