Photo by Austin Lewis/Sidelines Archive
Middle Tennessee soccer kicked off their 2016 campaign Friday night at home against Jacksonville State, winning 1-0 in a game that was decided near the end of the second half.
Coming into the matchup, MTSU knew they would have to be patient and creative with their play. After losing their top four scorers from last season, it was up to the returning players to step up and find a way to score when they needed it most.
When the two met last season, All-Conference Midfielder Cameron Cox scored the lone goal of the night, giving the Blue Raiders their first home win of the 2015 season.
This year, it was redshirt freshman Haley Nishimoto who won the game for the Blue Raiders by scoring off a header on a cross from Kerri Cook.
The scoring play in the 84th minute was Nishimoto’s first career goal as well as Cook’s first career assist.
Cook, who is known for her defense, made it easy for true freshman goalkeeper Sydney Chalcraft. Chalcraft held Jacksonville State to just five shots, only two of which were on goal.
Offensively, the Blue Raiders put up 19 shots, peppering the offensive third of the field. Six of the Middle Tennessee attempts were on net.
Fans who attended the matchup will be the first to say the score of Friday’s matchup doesn’t indicate how the game was ultimately dominated by MTSU the whole 90 minutes.
Replacing your top four scorers is never easy, but new players learning their roles in a season-opening win can’t hurt.
The Blue Raiders are back in action next Thursday in Nashville when they take on Jackson State at a neutral site.
Middle Tennessee will then get a two-day break before returning home on Sunday, August 28 for the highly anticipated matchup against the Florida State Seminoles who enter the season as the No. 1 team in the country.