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Soccer playing better lately

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Written by Juston Lewis, Staff Writer

 

In a complete turnaround from most of the early part of the season, VSU soccer has gotten a lot more competitive in the team’s recent matches. After a win and two draws in its last three matches, VSU Soccer’s confidence is growing according to Coach Rebecca Nolin.

On Oct. 14, the Blazers took on the Union Bulldogs and scored first for the first time this season. The team also held a two goal lead for a majority of the game.

In the 70th minute, Union scored a goal and the equalizer came roughly 10 minutes later.

The comeback forced the two teams to enter into the extra time period. During the last golden goal extra time period (the first team to score wins) for the Blazers, they gave up a goal to West Georgia minutes into the additional period.

The Blazers stayed tied against Union in both additional periods and forced a tie as Alyssa Curtis made a save on a shot as time dwindled off the clock.

Coach Nolin credited Union’s comeback to the game plan that Union went to after going down by two.

“I don’t want to critique my players,” Nolin said. “I’d much rather praise Union’s players. Being down two goals, you’re going to lose anyway, so he had no other choice but to comeback and fight.”

The game was very intense, and multiple Blazers sustained injuries throughout the contest. The injuries could be a concern for the Blazers because they had a game just two days later. However, Coach Nolin said her players were “game fit” and didn’t see it as a problem.

“We’ve been doing this for six weeks at this point,” she said. “It’s just a matter of controlling the controllable.”

The match on Sunday was very different from Friday night for the Blazers.

On Sunday, the Blazers found themselves trailing Christian Brothers University less than a minute into the match. Seconds later, CBU had netted another goal. After the second goal, the two teams traded possession for a majority of the game until freshman forward, Brittney Benedict, struck a volley and found her way onto the score sheet for the first time as a Blazer.

The Blazers went into the half down a goal, but they used energy from the home crowd to gain some momentum. In the 66th minute, Riley Tenant found a Morgan Hasse pass and netted the equalizer from inside the goalkeeper’s box.

The two teams stayed even throughout the remainder of regular time. For the second time in as many days, VSU played an additional period to settle their game.  The two teams went into the extra time period tied at 2-2.

It was a relatively quiet extra period aside from two missed shots by VSU. Both teams looked fatigued, not only from the match but the gruesome heat that they were in.

“I think we were winded because we were pushing so hard to get the other goals,” Nolin said after Sunday’s tie. “We’re in the same boat as everyone with playing Friday and Sunday so of course we are going to be tired but it’s the exact same as the other team.”

Both results from the weekend ended in 2-2, but the games were a part of a positive trend that has developed lately for the team.

VSU has not lost since its Oct. 9 matchup with Delta State, and has been playing with an aggressive streak since the West Georgia game. In their past seven games, the Blazers are averaging 11 shots a game. Their season average is only eight shots while giving up almost 20 to opponents.

The Blazers have caught fire at the right part of the season. They have not been eliminated from the Gulf South Conference Championship yet. The team currently sit at the 10th seed, and the top six seeds play in the tournament. VSU would have to win out, and they would need North Alabama to lose the rest of its games.

The Blazers have the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone as they will face North Alabama on Sunday, Oct. 23 in Florence, Alabama at 2 p.m. eastern.

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