Jax State soccer looking to gain momentum

Jacksonville State erased a deficit in the second half with three goals to register the first victory of the season with a 3-1 win over in-state foe Alabama State in the home opener on Sunday at the JSU Soccer Field. Claire Petersen
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Claire Petersen and the JSU Gamecocks will look to bounce back from a down week. (JSU Athletics)

Garrett Sanders, Sports Writer

Last week, the Gamecocks had a series of matchups against a couple of in-state foes, Troy University and Samford University. Not only did JSU have that, but they also had a road to trip to Macon, Georgia to take Mercer University. Despite the busy weekend for the JSU Soccer team, it looked like things would be in their favor. This team had favorable matchups against all three of their opponents. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, this week’s outcome did not end in their support.

The Gamecocks seemed to have a decent chance for plenty of scoring opportunities against a weak Troy Trojan defense. The attack was on point all game long. However, the superb goalkeeping in this game saved the Trojans (and Gamecocks) from a high scoring affair. The Gamecocks goalkeeper, Morgan Lerch, proved that she is a future superstar in the making.

The impressive stat here for Lerch is that against Troy, she recorded a shutout. What is even more impressive about this stat is that this is not her first, or second, but the third shutout! Also, add to the fact that she is a Redshirt, Freshmen… You’re talking about a pure athlete who has the tremendous athletic ability and will only progress into the future!

Even though the Gamecocks did not win, they also did not lose either. The final score for this matchup against the Trojans would be a tie of 0-0.

With the Gamecocks getting two days of rest before their next matchup, they needed to start out strong. That is precisely what they did tie heading into the second half against a struggling Samford team.

Six minutes into the second half, the Gamecock Offensive attack came firing at all cylinders. The play was first set up by Sophomore Lindsay Albani. Albani passed the ball to Freshmen Abigail Martinez. Martinez then saw the team leader, Senior Madison Carruthers with an opportunity to score. Martinez crossed the ball to Carruthers. Carruthers, who had not scored a goal all season, knew this was her chance. Being the leader that she is, Carruthers stepped up to the plate, and delivered a strike!

The goal was encouraging not only the Gamecocks but for Carruthers as well. But the momentum for the Gamecocks did not last long. Even though the Gamecocks scored first, that didn’t seem to rattle the Bulldogs. Samford’s Offense came to play. The Bulldogs were in the Gamecocks defensive zone all night long.

Samford outshot the Gamecocks in a big 23 to 6 shot attempts. With the shots coming, you know that the Bulldogs would eventually get something on the board. In the 73rd minute, Korrie Sauder for Samford found her way past the net.

After that, the two teams stayed in the Gamecock defense for pretty much the rest of the night. 90 minutes was not enough to decide this matchup. But the for the Gamecocks, it didn’t get any better. The Bulldogs found themselves with six opportunities to score in the two overtime periods. With short time remaining, Korrie Sauder struck the net again.

The Gamecocks had an off night. When it seemed to go right, it didn’t end up that The Gamecocks, lost this matchup, 2-1.

JSU at this point was desperate for a win. Heading into just one day later of rest, against the Mercer Bears, they knew they could make a statement. Win, and the Gamecocks confidence would rise.

The Bears, however, were on a hot streak heading into this game. Just 23 seconds into the match, it showed. The Bears quickly came out of the gate and found themselves with a scoring opportunity. Abigail Zoeller for the Bears made a strike to the back of the net past Morgan Lerch. Just like that, the Bears had the momentum.

The Gamecocks knew they had to stay focused and upright. In the 18th minute, teamwork found this Gamecock squad back in business.

Junior Emma Meadows had the ball in Bears territory. As she looked for a pass, she found a perfect opportunity for an assist. Another team leader, Senior Claire Petersen was open. Meadows passed the ball to Petersen. Petersen did what she does best. Score. This goal would be Petersen’s third goal of the season. Petersen is only proving why her experience matters. This is one of the reasons why she is one of the leaders in this JSU squad.

But unfortunately for the Gamecocks, like against Samford, Mercer was in the Gamecock defensive zone all game long. The Bears had 28 shots to JSU’s 11. Even though the Gamecock Defense played hard and long all game long, the Bears found their mojo in Overtime.

In the 93rd minute, Caroline Smith for the Bears seized the moment. She found her way to put the ball past Morgan Lerch. The Bears would prevail and find their way past the Gamecocks.

Even though the Gamecocks did not perform well this week, they should be encouraged. This is a team that fights to the wire. The Gamecocks have been in four overtime matchups this season. This is a young squad with loads of potential.

The next game JSU has on their schedule is against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. This is a team that also lost to North Alabama, but not as bad. It will be a road trip to Cookeville, Tennessee for the Gamecocks. This is a game that Gamecocks can salvage their season. Win, and they will have momentum.

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