Garrett Sanders, Sports Writer
Conference play for the OVC has finally opened for the JSU Soccer Team! The Gamecocks, who have struggled in the past couple of weeks ,were looking to salvage their season. Getting a win in their conference opener would be huge for this team moving forward.
JSU took a 200+ mile trip to Cookeville, Tennessee to take on the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. This is a team overall that has a much better-looking record than JSU. However, this is also a team that lost to a North Alabama team worse than JSU did. North Alabama is currently one of the best soccer teams in the state. So, JSU had to feel confident going into this match.
However, this game was sloppy from start to finish. JSU did not play to their best game of soccer. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, this was a game that was played with uncharacteristic errors and mistakes. Both mentally and physically.
This team is generally good at playing a clean game throughout. Friday against the Golden Eagles, the Gamecocks committed eight fouls. However, while the defense committed fouls, the Gamecocks do have something positive to come out with this.
Last week the Gamecocks had allowed every single opponent they played to play on the Gamecocks defensive side all game. Against the Golden Eagles, the Gamecocks improved from that.
While Tennessee Tech did not get in the Gamecock defensive side as much as they wanted, they made it count. This is what made the difference in the game for JSU.
In the 35th minute, Tennessee Tech found the first goal of the game. On a corner kick, the ball was kicked and headed in by Golden Eagle Molly Kafader. This made the game a 1-0 score with the Golden Eagles taking the lead.
The game would be back and forth with JSU committing foul after foul. In the 80th minute, this game was put out of reach for the Gamecocks. Chloe Smith for Tennessee Tech had the ball. She then saw her teammate, Nora Vicsek wide open. Smith passed the ball to Vicsek who then delivered a strike to the back of the net. Just like that, it was 2-0.
The Gamecocks knew at this point they were in trouble. JSU knew that they had to get in rhythm and score. Unfortunately, the Golden Eagles defense played to their best potential. The Gamecocks would have three scoring opportunities in the final ten minutes of the game. While the Gamecocks had their chances, time would run out, and Tennessee Tech remained victorious.
Despite losing their conference opener, the Gamecocks know that they can compete. This is a team that never ceases to amaze me on how they fight to the very end. Seeing how the Gamecocks fought and clawed to the very end against Tennessee Tech gives me confidence.
The next game for JSU will be against the Southeast Missouri Redhawks in Jacksonville. Admission to the game is free. The Redhawks are a team that has a similar record in comparison to JSU. However, JSU has the better scoring margin as far as their games in comparison look. If you are looking for a game that will feature a fun, entertaining, close matchup, this one is for you!