Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines
Story by Julian Morris / Contributing Writer
The Middle Tennessee Lady Raider soccer team (3-4) came away with a victory after another late winner earned by sophomore forward Amber Hoot. This is their third straight victory overall and second straight physical matchup.
MTSU started off the game hot and enjoyed a lot of possession in the early part of the game. Amber Hoot linked up with Peyton DePriest in the 14th minute for the match opener.
That goal seemed to fire up the Evansville Aces, as they began to play with more physicality and scored the tying goal a mere six minutes later.
Mikayla Harvey was on the near-post and used the back of her head to nod in a perfect ball from Sara Osinski, who gave the Lady Raiders fits for the majority of the game.
While the Lady Raiders continued to play well, they were nervy in the final third of the half and failed to get a shot off late. When the first half horn sounded, the teams went into the locker room tied at 1-1.
Middle Tennessee came out firing again in the second half and went up 2-1 after DePriest volleyed a perfect cross from sophomore forward Taylor Hatch. DePriest is the MTSU’s leading scorer with her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
In a scary moment for the MT faithful, DePriest came out of the game after a tackle from Evansville’s Jenna Szopinski, who received a caution for her efforts.
The match got much more physical after DePriest came off. Both teams clashed and collided with each other throughout the second half. MTSU got in on the physical play, as senior Sally Gill received a caution with 14 minutes left in the match.
With nine minutes left in the match, Blue Raider fans were brought to their feet with a beautiful attack on the left side of the pitch, but freshman forward Madeleine Schricker injured herself while stretching for a heavy pass. Evansville quickly took advantage, as Jayme-Lee Hunter scored a few moments later after a pass from Katie Schroeder.
Middle Tennessee head coach Aston Rhoden decided on a change with four-and-a-half minutes to go. Coach Rhoden brought on Hoot, Gill and DePriest, much to the delight of the home crowd. Regulation ended with a 2-2 score however, and the match went into overtime.
The overtime period had scarcely begun when Hoot scored the game-winner. She received the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and dribbled around the left side. She danced past an Evansville defender and took her shot, which deflected off of the crossbar and into the goal for a 3-2 Lady Raider victory.
Even with her game-winning shot, Hoot appreciated the result more than her own goal.
“I was just happy that we got a result that we wanted,” Hoot said. “I feel like all season, we’ve worked really hard and I feel very happy that I was lucky enough to get the game-winner.”
DePriest is the team’s leading goal scorer, and if you ask most fans, they would tell you that she’s a leader. She doesn’t see it that way, citing that her teammates are why she has been so successful.
“I don’t really think I’m as much of a leader in the ranks,” DePriest said. .”The seniors are pretty good leaders overall. I can’t be where I am without my teammates.”
The team now has three consecutive wins and is 3-4 on the year after an 0-4 start. If you ask Coach Rhoden, it boils down to one thing: belief.
“It’s just a matter of belief,” Rhoden said. “We put the work in. We know what our identity is. We know how we want to play, and we believe in that.”
The Lady Raider’s next game is next Sunday, September 24. They will face the UTSA Roadrunners in their conference opener at Dean A. Hayes Stadium at 2 p.m.
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