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Skyhawks soccer uses OT goal to tie school record for wins and downs EIU for first time

Skyhawks soccer uses OT goal to tie school record for wins and downs EIU for first time
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s soccer team had never defeated Eastern Illinois in 11 previous attempts, but Sophie Cox’s 95th minute golden goal changed all that and gave the Skyhawks a 2-1 victory Friday afternoon. The win improves the UT Martin record to 9-4-2 and 4-1-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play while Eastern Illinois falls to 6-7-1 on the season and 3-3-0 in conference play.
In the overtime period, Katie Behrens first had a shot at netting the golden goal. She pushed past her defender firing a shot from the left side across the box that sailed just inches above the top right corner of the goal. Only two minutes later, Cox found herself 25 yards out from goal, but wide open. She quickly fired a shot that made its way through the Eastern Illinois defense and past Jenny Williams who was in goal. The golden goal was the first of Cox’s career and her third game-winner of the season.
“It felt great to score the winner but mostly it was nice to get a win today, especially after loosing to them last year in the conference tournament,” said Cox.
The Skyhawks’ first goal of the day came in the 35th minute after Behrens earned a penalty kick. Behrens broke through the defensive front and was taken down from behind, while inside the box, by Eastern Illinois’ Caitlyn Eisenhauer. Stephanie Nilica was called upon to take the penalty kick and netted it to record her first career goal. Nilica’s goal also broke a scoring drought for the Skyhawks against Eastern Illinois. Prior to her goal, the Skyhawks had not scored against the Panthers since Oct. 21, 2004 in a 3-1 loss.
Eastern Illinois evened the game in the second half, during the 60th minute, off the foot of Sarah Rusk. She collected a rebound that trickled out near the top of the box and was able to score the goal past UT Martin’s Johanna Rathbun. The equalizing goal ended a 264-minute scoreless streak for Rathbun and the Skyhawks that extended back to the match against Morehead State on Oct. 7.
With the win, Rathbun’s record in goal improves to 8-2-2 on the year. She also collected a season and career high eight saves in the win.
“I am quite pleased with the result today,” said UT Martin head coach Craig Roberts. “We played very well in the first half, but in the second half Eastern Illinois out-played us. We were able to hang with them and in overtime we wanted to leave it all on the line. These girls are a special group and that showed today in the way they came through.”
The Skyhawks’ win also tied them for the most in program history at nine. That mark was first set during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. UT Martin will have two more opportunities in the regular season to break the record for wins. The first of those opportunities will come Sunday afternoon as Southeast Missouri visits Skyhawk Field. The Redhawks entered the weekend tied with Samford for first in the OVC with a perfect 5-0-0 mark in conference play. Southeast Missouri picked up a win over Murray State 3-2 on Friday, improving to 6-0-0 on the year.
In last year’s contest, the Redhawks prevailed 1-0 on a last second shot from midfield at the end of the first half. UT Martin’s lone win in the all-time series came the last time the two played in Martin and the Skyhawks will look to replicate that. With a win over the Redhawks, UT Martin can move ahead of Murray State in the conference standings and be in the driver’s seat to host a first round match of the OVC Tournament.

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