Skyhawks close out conference play with win over SEMO
The Skyhawk soccer team played their final home match Sunday afternoon, finishing what has been a disappointing season of near misses in OVC play. UTM capped off conference play with a thrilling 1-0 victory over the visiting Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State. The victory was the first in program history over SEMO, and one the Skyhawks had been looking forward to all season. SEMO opened the match aggressively as they were looking to secure home field advantage for the first round of OVC Tournament action.
SEMO's defense stood strong as the Skyhawks were unable to get much going offensively. UTM was out shot 6-2 in the first half, but thanks to superb play from senior goalkeeper Megan Dempsey, both teams went into the half tied at zero.
It was not until late in the second half that the tie was broken when senior Katie Jackson broke away and found fellow senior Dani Myrick cutting to the goal to put in the match's lone score with only 7:45 remaining. The goal was Myrick's 34th of her career and 8th game winner.
Prior to Sunday's match, ceremonies were held to honor five Skyhawk seniors who were playing their last match at Skyhawk Field. Co-captains Lindsey Tilk and Dani Myrick along with forward Katie Jackson, midfielder Katie Hausauer and goalkeeper Megan Dempsey, all have been four year players for UTM compiling a 30-35-8 record and reaching the OVC Tournament in 2002 and 2003. Pifer said of the seniors that he was "proud and excited for them, and they deserved this win."
Prior to UTM's matchup with SEMO, the Skyhawks hosted border rival Murray State and conference leader Eastern Illinois.
Going into the Murray State game, UTM needed to pick up a win if they wanted to keep their OVC Tournament hopes alive. Senior Dani Myrick put the Skyhawks on top early when she netted a goal only 6:59 into the match off a corner kick from freshman Jody Kiers.
With the momentum in their favor UTM looked to close the deal, but those thoughts quickly faded when the Racer's Krista Llewellyn answered the Skyhawk goal under a minute later. Racer goalkeeper Heather Jones also stepped up her game not allowing another goal in the half.
As the second half began Llewellyn was not done, when she scored her second goal of the day giving the Racers a 2-0 lead.
Murray's Rebekah Clay added an insurance goal late in the match, setting the final score in Murray's favor 3-1.
UTM had more than enough opportunities to score as they out shot the Racers 32-7, but were unable to put anything else past the Murray defense after the initial goal.
With the loss, the Skyhawks sealed their fate of missing the OVC Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Following a weekend of off-field distractions, UTM entered their match up against Eastern Illinois with a limited line up of only 13 players available for play.
The limited line up put the Skyhawks into a difficult situation as many players were forced into new roles for the first time. Though shorthanded, the Skyhawks were not intimidated as they battled EIU through a very physical regulation period and into overtime. One minute into the overtime a questionable foul was called on UTM, giving EIU a free kick from 18 yards out. EIU's Kathleen Hayes then netted the winning goal for the Panthers, ending UTM's hope at a surprise upset victory.
The Skyhawks will now travel to Nashville as they finish their season with a match up against the Lady Bisons of Lipscomb University. UTM will look to send the seniors off with a win as they close out their collegiate careers.
Follow the women's soccer team online at www.utmsports.com and watch next week's issue of the Pacer for a season recap of the 2005 season.
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