September 23, 2016

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team opened up Ohio Valley Conference play Friday night as it traveled to Edwardsville, Ill. to take on SIUE (3-4-2, 1-0 OVC). The Cougars were able to come away with the 3-1 win.

The Skyhawks (3-6, 0-1 OVC) opened the contest as the aggressor as they pushed back the SIUE defenders into their own end at the opening kickoff. UT Martin was able to control possession and get the first scoring chance of the game in just the second minute. Danae Kaldaridou found a charging Sophia Sharos in the left side of the box and she finished it off past a diving Cougar defender and goalkeeper Juli Rossi. It was the second goal of the year for the Collinsville, Ill. native and gave the Skyhawks an early 1-0 lead.

The Cougars answered the early UT Martin goal with a flurry of chances midway through the opening period. In the 19th minute, SIUE forward Jorie Clawson was able to beat Skyhawk goalkeeper Maya Jamison from 20 yards out to tie the match 1-1.

Head coach Phil McNamara said the turning point in the game came from the Cougars’ ability to capitalize on their chances from long range.

“SIUE scored on fantastic goal from distance,” McNamara said. ”They capitalized on a few chances from distance that turned out to be the difference in the game.”

SIUE took a 2-1 lead late in the first half when Sydney Moore’s shot from 10 yards out hit the crossbar and barely creeped over the line. SIUE took the lead into the half.

The best chance for the Skyhawks to tie the match came in the 52nd minute when  Katelyn Colvin sent a corner kick into the box. Bianca McFarland gained possession and sent a shot at the Cougar net that was stopped by Rossi. After a second consecutive corner kick from Colvin caromed to Kaci Mitchell, the sophomore was able to land a shot on net that was also saved by the SIUE keeper. Saphyra Coombs-James took the rebound and sent a shot off a Cougar defender earning her a second attempt that just missed on the right side from five yards out. The Skyhawks totaled four shots in just over one minute but could not get find the equalizer.

“I was really pleased with our response from halftime on,” McNamara said. “I thought we put ourselves in a great position with some one on one opportunities but just couldn’t find the tying goal. SIUE had a clearance off the line and a couple of nice saves to prevent us from tying the game.”

SIUE extended their lead to 3-1 in the 74th minute when Kassidy Rawdon was able to send a shot over an outstretched MaKenzie Crawford from 30 yards away. The Skyhawks earned two corners late looking to rally but were unable to solve Rossi.

“I feel like we were the better team for 60 minutes,” McNamara said. “We are scratching our heads a little bit after tonight’s match because we created some great opportunities. It was a greatly contested first conference game of the season by both teams but credit to SIUE. They battled a little harder than we did and were more physical on the night than we were.”

UT Martin will be looking to bounce back on Sunday, Sept. 25 as they finish the Illinois swing at Eastern Illinois. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

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