September 30, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – A courageous effort from the University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team fell just short on Friday night, as the Skyhawks hosted their first Ohio Valley Conference home match of the season against Austin Peay. The Governors came out on top 4-3.

UT Martin found itself down early as Austin Peay (7-4, 2-0 OVC) was able to strike with two goals in the first 12 minutes. OVC scoring leader Kirstin Robertson tallied a goal and an assist on the opening goals for the Governors.

The rest of the first period was a story of close chances for the Skyhawks (3-8, 0-3 OVC), as Saphyra Coombs-James, Shannon Grattan and Amy McGivern each had near misses from distance that would have put UT Martin on the board.

Coming into the second half, the Skyhawks were looking to press forward and increase their chances. However, adversity struck quickly as Maggie Burkett picked up her second yellow card of the contest in the 47th minute that disqualified her for the rest of the match and left UT Martin only playing with 10 players the rest of the way.

After the Governors extended their lead to 3-0 just six minutes into the second half, the Skyhawks turned up the pressure and began to find their rhythm. McGivern put the Skyhawks on the board in the 64th minute off a beautiful give-and-go with Coombs-James. The goal was her third of the season and Coombs-James first assist this year.

As the crowd came to their feet to cheer UT Martin on, a free kick misplayed by the Austin Peay keeper in the 74th minute, as Danae Kaldaridou was there to clean it up and get the Skyhawks within one. It was the third goal of the season for the Athens, Greece native and it pulled UT Martin closer, 3-2.

The short-handed Skyhawks needed less than five minutes to find the equalizer as McGivern was able to settle down a loose ball and launch an incredible shot past a diving Governor keeper and into the top right corner of the net to tie the score 3-3. Normally known for her work as a defender, head coach Phil McNamara said McGivern stepped up offensively when the team needed her the most.

“Amy is a competitor,” McNamara said. “She is a hard worker and a big time player for us. She was huge when we needed her to be.”

After some back and forth action in the final minutes, Austin Peay’s go-to forward, Robertson, was able to get behind the short-handed Skyhawks  on a counter-attack and narrowly beat Crawford in the 89th minute to give the Governors the 4-3 win.

“It was an unbelievable second half from our players,” McNamara said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted but our backs were against the wall and I was absolutely delighted with the character, work rate and how mature we were in the second half to give ourselves a chance.”

With the defending OVC champions coming to Martin on Sunday, the Skyhawks will be looking for a quick turnaround against a tough opponent.

“Right now we are still learning how to win games,” McNamara said. “So we have to bounce back quickly. Hopefully we can get our legs back and get ready for a very strong and aggressive Murray team coming in on Sunday.”

UT Martin will host the Racers on Sunday, Oct. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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