With two wins this weekend, the SIUE women’s soccer team set a team record for victories in a NCAA Division-1 season with nine.
On Friday, the team defeated Murray State (4-8-1 overall, 1-5 OVC) by scoring four second-half goals. On Sunday, the Cougars defeated Austin Peay (9-2-2 overall, 4-1-1 OVC) by a score of 1-0.
Head Coach Derek Burton said the team’s success has come from sticking to its game plan and recruiting good players who fit into the team’s system.
“We’ve stuck to the things that work, and played the way that suits our players best,” Burton said. “A lot of it starts with recruiting and having quality players each year, and continue bringing quality athletes into our program and sticking with what works for us. On top of that, the players really believe in themselves and what we’re doing. It’s making a difference in the win column.”
Senior defender Kourtney Price said she has seen the team grow up in the years she has been at SIUE, and likes the direction in which the team is headed.
“The first two years I was here, we couldn’t even compete,” Price said. “Now we have something to compete for. We’ve beat some respectable teams this year, and I think it puts us in a new light. I think it shows other teams that we are here to compete. Just because we went D-1 a few years ago doesn’t mean they can overlook us.”
On Friday, after ending the first half down 2-1 to Murray State, the Cougars netted four goals in the second half to win 5-2. The team tied the game in the 63rd minute, when Price took a free kick and found the head of senior forward Erin DiGiovanni, who scored her second goal of the season.
Less than 30 seconds later, sophomore midfielder Marissa Delgado collected a pass inside the 18-yard box from graduate student midfielder Tory Pitts, and scored her first goal of the season.
Price gave the Cougars a two-goal advantage in the 68th minute when she blasted a long shot over the Murray State goalkeeper and into the back of the net, scoring her first goal of the season.
Pitts scored the final goal for the Cougars in the 79th minute, when she kicked a rebounded shot into the Murray State goal. It was her third goal of the season.
Burton said the team did not change its plan of attack for the second half, but it did raise concentration.
“We just wanted to stick with what we were doing and make sure the intensity was at a high level,” Burton said. “That really was the difference. We didn’t change the way we were playing. We were just more effective, and a lot of it had to do with how we were competing.”
On Sunday, the Cougars faced an Austin Peay team that had not lost a conference game up to that point. It looked as if the game might be headed to overtime until the 80th minute when Price sent a free kick into the 18-yard box that found Pitts.
With no real opportunity for a shot, Pitts passed the ball to freshman defender Christine Martinez, who hit a close shot into the back of the net for her first career goal and a Cougar victory.
The game was a defensive battle for the Cougars, and Price said the group just needed to work together to get the win.
“The first-half was a struggle because we weren’t really playing as a whole unit, but in the second half, we played as one connected line,” Price said. “That helped us stay together. Once we all played together, we can do some amazing things. We can shut out a team like Austin Peay and be successful. We just need to have each other’s backs.”
Burton gave credit to his assistant coaches for the victory, and said the discipline the team showed led to the victory.
“We were organized, especially in the second half, where we did a good job of shutting them down,” Burton said. “A lot of it had to do with the defensive work we put in. The back line was really organized by our assistant coaches at halftime. With them being organized and effective, it allowed everyone to defend at a high level.”
The Cougars next game is at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 at Korte Stadium against Jacksonville State.