By Stephen Hauser
Strong defense and relentless offense helped break Eastern’s four-game scoreless drought. The women’s soccer team traveled to Northwest Indiana to face an undefeated Valparaiso University team last weekend and left with a 0-0 double-overtime tie. On Sunday, in-state rival Western Kentucky came to town looking to knock off the Colonels. Instead the both teams battled to a 1-1 double-overtime tie.
The Colonels’ defense operated like a well-oiled machine until 27 minutes into the first half.
Western’s Kaylan Pratt took the rebound off Eastern’s goalie Stephanie Lynch’s initial block and put the ball inches above Lynch’s outreached hands into the back of the net.
“This is a game of inches,” Coach Lindsay Basalyga said.
But Western’s goal did not destroy the morale or the communication as it had done in previous games this season.
The Colonels tightened down their defense and did not allow the Hilltoppers to score on any of their five corner kicks.
Eastern’s offense scored the equalizer just nine minutes later. This is the first time the Colonels have scored a goal after falling behind.
Freshman Janelle Coates received a goal kick from Lynch and drove downfield. Coates beat her defender and had only one more person to beat, the goalie. She ripped the ball from 20 yards away and sent it sailing into the back of the net.
“It felt really awesome to score the goal,” Coates said. “What made it even better was the fact that it was my first time playing forward, because I usually play center mid.”
This was the second straight game in which the Colonels headed into halftime with a tied score. They were outshot 11-3 in the first half.
“Tying up the game before halftime was a great way to enter the locker room,” Basalyga said. “It set a great tone heading into the second half.”
The Colonels made a few personnel changes during halftime, but mainly discussed ways to exploit the Hilltoppers’ weakness. And the offense really clicked in the second half as they fired off six shots.
There were numerous offensive opportunities for the Colonels to make a huge play or put the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately, the ball ended up just an inch or two ahead of the player.
Basalyga said she was very pleased to see the way the offense was playing, but had a few suggestions for increasing scoring opportunities.
“I do believe that they could take riskier chances to try score,” she said.
The defense was not able to take many breathers during the second half. The Colonels’ defense had to defend four corner kicks Western. They also forced Western’s offense into five offside’s calls.
“It feels really good that our defense shut them down after the first goal,” Lynch said. “We are learning to defend as a unit, we also need to make sure that we play for a full 90 minutes.”
The Colonels played a physical second half, considering they recorded seven of their 16 fouls.
The Colonels were outshot 3-1 in both overtimes, but neither team could find the back of the net.
Eastern’s players seemed pleased with the tie against Western, but like any team, they really wanted a victory.
“We really wanted to win that game,” Coates said. “It should really push us to want to win the next few games.