The Truman State University women’s soccer team took a standout conference win over GLVC rival Bellarmine University with a 1-0 overtime victory last Friday afternoon. Junior midfielder Kelsey Murphy sealed the game with a goal about 40 seconds into overtime with 90:43 total minutes of play on the clock. That goal, assisted by redshirt senior forward Stephanie Williams, was Murphy’s first goal of the season and fourth in her career.
The match was a highly anticipated battle in a nationally ranked rivalry, with Truman ranked at No. 25 in national polls and Bellarmine ranked No. 9.
Senior forward Allie McDonell and senior midfielder Megan Casserly says this would be a key match for Truman and a good chance to see what their team is made of.
McDonell says Bellarmine’s quickness and aggressive mindset challenged Truman, but the team worked hard and prepared for this match all preseason.
Casserly says she agreed the team had training with redemption in mind.
“This is definitely one of our biggest match-ups this season, losing to them in [the] regular season and in the NCAA tournament last year,” Casserly says. “Just like any other game, there is a lot of mental preparation involved and definitely a lot of built-up motivation and desire to beat them. We have been working hard at practice to fix the simple things in our play and work together to become better.”
Head coach Mike Cannon says the main focus for his team heading into this important match was to rest up and stay healthy. Cannon says his team plays similarly to Bellarmine’s in that both emphasize passing and keeping the ball within their control on the offensive end. Cannon said this was a test for the ‘Dogs because the Knights brought an offensive attack they had not seen yet this season.
Bellarmine entered the match undefeated and 2-0 in GLVC play. The Knights played in the Sweet Sixteen of last year’s NCAA national tournament and began 2016 ranked 8th in Div. II, the highest ranking in their program history.
“They have always been a good program, even before we joined the conference a couple years ago,” Cannon says. “They have been very good the last couple years, and they’re off to a good start this year also.”
Cannon says he thinks soccer is a game of chance, and he feels like his team needs to take more control in creating breaks for themselves.
“We need to create more chances and put some more chances away,” Cannon says. “We have been good defensively … Usually it’s a one-goal game, close games. So not conceding a goal always helps. You can’t lose if you don’t get scored on.”
Truman has learned this firsthand, now having shut out its last five opponents, backed by reigning GLVC defensive player of the week, junior goalkeeper Katie Mattingly.
As expected, game time proved the two teams to be evenly matched. The Bulldogs finished with five shots overall and two on net but were slightly outshot by the Knights, who finished with nine shots overall and three on goal.
The Bulldogs claimed this match, but it’s more than likely this is not the last time the ‘Dogs will have to deal with Bellarmine. As a strong contender nationally and in the GLVC, Cannon says his team can expect to see the Knights further down the road, ideally in the conference or national tournament later this season.
After beating Bellarmine Friday afternoon, women’s soccer capped off the weekend of conference play with another win against the University of Southern Indiana. In another shutout, the ‘Dogs took the match 3-0 and boosted their record to 5-0-1.
Truman will remain on the home field this week, hosting Drury University Friday, at 1 p.m. Sept. 23.