Photo by Brent Beerends/MT Athletics
Middle Tennessee (3-6-1, 1-2 C-USA) fell at home 1-0 on Friday night against Florida Atlantic (6-5-1, 2-0), the first win in the last six meetings for the Owls.
A win for either team was crucial as both entered the contest at 1-1 in conference play.
In what was a tightly fought defensive contest, senior Sammy Rowland found the back of the net for Florida Atlantic, her fifth goal of the season, to break a scoreless tie in the 36th minute.
The Blue Raiders out-shot the Owls in the first half 6-5 but missed two key opportunities to score. Sophomore Abbie Brown had her shot blocked in the 26th minute and freshman Amber Hoot looked to tie the game in the 40th minute but her shot hit just off the crossbar.
Missed chances continued to doom the Raiders in the second half as another shot by Brown couldn’t find the target, finding the crossbar instead. Freshman Salera Jordan had an excellent look at the goal, but her shot was saved by Florida Atlantic goalkeeper Sydney Drinkwater in the 73rd minute.
Blue Raider goalkeeper Sydney Chalcraft kept Middle Tennessee in the game the entire way, racking up six saves in the contest.
“I thought it was good,” Head Coach Aston Rhoden said of Chalcraft’s performance. “She’s been fairly consistent so far. That’s why she’s our starting goalkeeper.”
The Blue Raiders out-shot the Owls 15-10 for the game but Rhoden noted that the overall team effort could be improved by better communication.
“The mentality has got to be better, in terms of trying to get to be the first to the ball,” Rhoden said. “The communication has to be better.”
Despite falling behind, the Raiders never gave up and continued to battle up until the final whistle.
“I think the work ethic was consistent throughout the game,” Rhoden said. “I’m proud of the effort that we gave. Now we just have to make sure that we do a much better job at defending set pieces.”
The Blue Raiders will have one off day before returning to Dean A. Hayes Stadium on Sunday to take on FIU. Game time is set for 1 p.m.