by SID - The women's soccer team closes out the regular season at home this Friday against Kentucky at 7 p.m. Just a couple of weeks ago, it looked like it would be the final game of the 2009 campaign as well, as the team lost its fourth straight game at Auburn (3-0) to drop to 7-7-1 overall and 1-6 in SEC play.
The coaching staff decided to make a couple of lineup changes, giving sophomore Emily Grant and redshirt freshman Kate Goldin starting nods against Alabama. The moves have paid off since then as the team has won three straight including a 1-0 win over No. 17 Ole Miss last Sunday in Oxford. Both of them have come up big in critical situations. Grant scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Alabama on Oct. 19, giving the Commodores their first SEC road win of the season. Goldin, who had battled through a knee injury suffered in her senior year in high school, came through with the game-winner against the Rebels on Sunday to extend the win streak to three, the longest in league play since the 2005 campaign.
The Commodores control their own destiny in terms of reaching the SEC tournament next week in Orange Beach, Ala. A win or tie against the Wildcats will clinch a spot in the field for the first time since the 2006 season.
Head coach Ronnie Woodard is proud of the way the team has responded to the challenge of getting back on track to end the season.
"It’s always a challenge as a coach to keep the team together and still believing in themselves when going through a rough stretch like that," said Woodard. "I am proud with the way they stood up to the adversity after they experienced some tough losses."
The team has stepped up the intensity throughout all phases and have posted three straight shutout wins in the process. Goalkeeper Rachel Bachtel was honored by the SEC as its Defensive Player of the Week after recording 10 saves in those contests.
After the Ole Miss match, Woodard said that reaching 10 wins was one of the team's goals coming into the season and another was reaching Orange Beach, an experience only two current Commodores have had a chance to participate in: senior Megan Forester and redshirt junior Nicole Lukens.
"The girls have bought in and are fighting hard and are getting good results," said Woodard. "We took the stance of just taking it one game at a time in order to get to Orange Beach. Right now, the short term goals have proven to be very effective towards this goal."