By ROBERT RISTANEO
The Colonels suffered a potential season defining 1-0 loss Friday to Belmont (4-11-2, 3-5-1 OVC) in Richmond.
The game was physical throughout as both teams battled to stay alive in the OVC tournament discussion. The ball continually went back and forth between the two teams until about 10 minutes left in the game when Belmont sophomore forward Belicia Mendiola got free to give the Bruins the game’s only score.
The Colonels (4-14, 4-6 OVC) could not recover from the goal and Belmont defended hard the rest of the game.
Eastern sophomore forward Logan Harvey was all over the field, taking five shots to lead both teams and three shots on goal, which also led both teams.
Eastern outshot Belmont 10-8 and had nine fouls to Belmont’s 12.
“They always fight hard and have a good attitude,” Head Coach Andrew Fleming said after the game. “This is another game where we out shot them. We gave up two shots on goal and lost on a 60 yard free kick and a header from 19 yards out. That’s why I feel bad for the players, because they deserve more.”
Fleming was disappointed in the missed opportunities the Colonels had around the goal.
“We’ve always been very good from 18 to 18 [yard lines], there’s a reason they pay goal scorers professionally 10 times more than anyone else,” Fleming said. “When you put that kind of effort into scoring goals and you give up that goal, where we did nothing really wrong, is sickening.”
The Colonels concluded its season Sunday when it beat Jacksonville State (7-9-1, 4-4-1 OVC) in the season finale at Jacksonville, 2-1.
Jacksonville State got on the board first with a goal from senior forward Kelsey Bright in the 28th minute off a corner kick. Jacksonville took the lead into halftime.
The Colonels came out of half swinging, scoring in just the second minute on a goal from freshman mid-fielder Monica Rios to tie it up. The goal gave Rios the first score of her career.
In the 58th minute, redshirt freshman mid-fielder Haley Kemper got a cross from sophomore mid-fielder Logan Harvey and scored to take the lead. It was Harvey’s third assist of the season which leads the team.
Sophomore goalkeeper Anna Hall also had a good game, making five saves in the victory.
Fleming touted the the second half surge his team was able to put together.
“After a difficult first half, these girls regrouped and showed the same tremendous heart and character they have shown all season,” Fleming said. “We got two fantastic goals from two kids who have worked extremely hard this year and I was thrilled to see them rewarded.”
The Colonels won’t make the OVC tournament, which makes this the team’s last game, but Fleming was happy how his team finished.
“It’s a bit of an injustice that our season ends today, but soccer isn’t always just,” Fleming said. “However, to end with a performance like that is at least indicative of what this team really is.”