In a game that wrung every ounce of energy and emotion from the Missouri State Lady Bears, the Evansville Purple Aces earned the trip to Omaha for the MVC Tournament next weekend. The game was decided by penalty kicks after a 2 – 2 tie following regulation and two overtime periods. This is the second year in a row the Lady Bears have been knocked out of the tournament on PK’s, last years loss coming at the hands of Illinois State at the end of a 1 – 1 game.
The Aces opened the scoring in the 13th minute only to see the Lady Bears tie the game on a Chelsea Anderson goal in the 30th minute where it remained until early in the 2nd half. In the 56th minute Evansville leading scorer, Kayla Lambert, notched her 16th goal of the season to give the Aces the lead yet again. The Bears Lauren Heck knotted the score at 2 – 2 in the 68th minute on an assist from Chelsea Anderson when her shot in the box from Chelsea’s cross was deflected into the net off of an Ace’s defender.
The Lady Bear’s season thus comes to a close. In a season that saw them go 9 – 5 – 4 overall, 3 – 1 – 2 in the Missouri Valley Conference and winning records at home and on the road, in the end they left it all on the field. Working with a lineup of 15 girls over the final seven matches, the Lady Bears appeared to have hit a wall following the fine first time win over St. Louis University October 20th. After holding current MVC leader Drake to a 0 – 0 tie October 16th, the Lady Bears knocked off their in-state rivals with a 1 – 0 win on a goal by Kate Hercules on an assist by her roommate Angela Parsons on a late set piece. At that point the Lady Bears were 9 – 2 – 4 and had 24 goals against 13 surrendered. With shut out losses against Creighton (0 – 4) October 23rd and Oral Roberts (0 – 2) October 26th, along with today’s tournament loss, the differential has shrunk to 27 goals for and 21 surrendered.
It’s a tough way to finish. It points to the importance of a year round conditioning effort and avoiding injuries that can change the complexion of a team during the course of the season. Overall I enjoyed the season and the ladies should remember the strong run they made through September and early October as much if not more as these final three games. That will take some time. The toughest part for me will be seeing Captain Jackie Hood move onto the next phase of her life post-school while we consider Coach Brewer’s plans for filling that important position and role.
There is a very strong core of players in the sophomore and junior class. Five of the incoming freshmen saw significant playing time this year with three earning starting roles while the sixth, Jenna Laughlin, was hurt and saw action in one game. While they may be losing two seniors, they return the majority of their scoring (25 of the 27 goals) and the back line. I’m excited about 2006.
Congratulations ladies. Good luck Dorothy and Jackie and don’t forget to stay in touch with Springfield Soccer.