Southeast soccer team’s season comes to an end
The Southeast soccer season reached its conclusion on Sunday, Oct. 28, as the seventh-seeded Redhawks tied with the third-seeded Eastern Illinois Panthers 1-1 through regulation and two overtime periods, and then lost on penalty kicks 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Two days prior, Southeast defeated sixth-seeded Belmont University 4-3 on penalty kicks, breaking a 0-0 tie in the first round of the OVC Tournament to advance and take on EIU.
In the quarterfinals, the Panthers drew first blood in the 38th minute as senior defender Kayla Stolfa was able to get her shot to go in off the crossbar from a pass by junior forward Sarah DeWolf.
The Redhawks were able to get the equalizer as junior midfielder Esmie Gonzales found the end of a cross by sophomore forward Emily Holten and redirected it into the back of the net.
It was Gonzales’ 10th goal and Holten’s fifth assist for the season, each of which led the team in those respective categories. Freshman forward Morgan McCourt finished second on the team with four goals, and junior forward Jen Brien rounded out the scoring for Southeast with one goal. Redshirt-junior defender Jordan Nelson was second on the team with three assists.
The score remained 1-1 after regulation time and two overtime periods. Neither team recorded a shot in overtime and the game then headed to penalty kicks, where Eastern Illinois won 3-2 and advanced to the semifinals.
“I felt like we finished the season playing some very good soccer. I personally felt like we were dominating the game at EIU, so that was hardest part for me, was ending the season when you’re playing well. I was very pleased with the program and felt we were making a really good run,” Southeast coach Heather Nelson said.
Southeast had three players earn All-Ohio Valley Conference honors. Gonzales was named First-Team All-OVC for the second straight year. Morgan McCourt and freshman goalkeeper Bailey Redden were named to the All-OVC Newcomer Team.
It was a trying season for the Redhawks as they finished up 2018 with a 5-8-5 overall record and a 3-4-4 record in the OVC. They were in nearly every game, as five of their eight losses were by one goal.
Southeast started its season with three straight games at Houck Field, going 1-2-0.
The team took its first road trip to Arizona to take on the University of Arizona and University of Arizona State, where they lost to 5-0 and 4-0.
Southeast then returned home and went 1-3-0 over their next four games, including three straight defeats to open conference play.
After the 2-7-0 start for the Redhawks in their first nine games, they found their stride in their final nine games as they finished the season 3-1-5, with the only loss coming on the road in double overtime.
“We had a couple of tragic family losses at the very beginning of our season, one in particular when we were out in Arizona that really, really hit home,” Nelson said. “Programs and families deal with loss all the time, but the circumstances just made it be a really harsh reality for college students, that are just starting to become adults or growing into that young professional mode. So to be very honest, that put family first which is what needed to happen at that point. I felt like our players gave the program 100 percent of the energy they had left to give our program at that time. As the season went on, we found more productive ways of dealing with that loss, and having more energy to go toward the secondary things, which was soccer.”
The aforementioned 3-1-5 stretch included a five game unbeaten streak, which featured conference victories over Morehead State and Eastern Illinois, and draws with Eastern Kentucky, SIU-Edwardsville and Tennessee Tech.
The five-game unbeaten streak was broken with a 2-1 defeat in double overtime to Belmont before wrapping up the regular season with a 2-1 victory over Austin Peay.
Looking ahead to next year, the Redhawks will return most of its team, as there were only three seniors on the roster. However, those three seniors — Maddie Karstens, Lauren Kaempfe, and Jermima Job — started every game, so some players will have to step into bigger roles.
“Lauren Kaempfe and Maddie Karstens have been a backbone for this program. Those two and their leadership is going to be very difficult to replace,” Nelson said. “As for [Jermima], she was only with us for two years, but watching her grow over those two years was really fun.”
One of the returners will be Gonzales, who will be a senior. With her 10 goals this year, she now sits at 24 goals in her Southeast career, which puts her fourth on the all-time list, five behind Nicole Theile’s 29 career goals.
Gonzales also ranks top five at Southeast in four other career categories including shots, shots on goal, game-winning goals and points.
Southeast will play an exhibition schedule in the spring, with the first game against Missouri Southern State on March 3, 2019, at Houck Stadium.