By Alison Smalling, Embry-Riddle (Fla.) Sports Information Director
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – For the second time in program history, the Embry-Riddle (Fla.) women’s soccer team faced a team defending its national title and ranked No. 1 in the nation. For the second time, the Eagles rose to the challenge and knocked off their top-ranked opponent. The latest victory came on Sunday afternoon when the Blue and Gold registered a 1-0 shutout of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (3-1) on neutral ground at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
Sunday’s win marked the Eagles’ first in five outings against the Blue Raiders and improved their overall record to 2-1-1 on the year.
“What a tough battle between two good teams in the heat!” ERAU Head Coach Samantha Bohon commented. “I am a big fan of Lindsey Wilson and how Drew gets his team to play. I was really impressed with them Friday night against William Carey and knew we had our hands full today. One thing I appreciate about today’s performance is how our team kept working and competing despite the conditions. We still have plenty of room to grow and things we can do better, but these two games brought out some blue-collar toughness we need. It’s a much more enjoyable bus ride going home 2-0. “
The start of Sunday’s game saw both teams even in possession. The Blue Raiders had a 3-1 shot advantage on the stat sheet, but the Eagles created and equal number of chances as crosses behind the LWC defense just missed their intended targets.
At the 27:05 mark Valerie Obita force a Lindsey Wilson defender to play the ball out over the goal line resulting in an ERAU corner kick. Katherine Ebbs started the set piece from the left corner flag and lifted the ball in toward the near post where it was met by Obita. Obita headed the ball into the path of Martine Olsen who stood on the goal line near the far post and the senior headed the ball into the back of the net to put the Eagles up 1-0.
The remainder of the half saw Lindsey Wilson increase its intensity on offense, but the Eagles, thanks in part to a couple of strong plays from goalkeeper Olivia Lynch, turned back the Blue Raider attack and took the one-goal advantage into the intermission.
In the 49th minute, the Eagles won another corner kick and seemed destined to repeat the success of the first half, but this time Olsen’s shot was stopped on the line by a LWC defender.
Later in the half, Rebekka Gisladottir won the ball in the Eagles’ defensive third and made a pass that released Isabelle Haaranen on the left side. Haaranen dribbled another 10 yards before taking aim at the goal, but LWC goalkeeper Johanna Henrikson got her fingertips to the ball to keep the Eagles off the board again.
With just under eight minutes remaining, the Eagles launched an attack that led to a series of four consecutive corner kicks. The Blue Raiders managed to turn back each set piece and with a minute left, took the ball to the other end of the pitch. LWC got the ball into the box and a ERAU clearance attempt ricocheted off LWC forward Natasha Gensetter and back toward the goal, but once again, Lynch was on hand to snag the save and preserve the shutout.
The Eagles will be back at the Embry-Riddle Soccer Stadium on Friday when they host 11th-ranked Kansas Wesleyan at 7:30 p.m. Friday’s contest will be part of the third annual Habitat for Humanity Tournament, which begins at 5 p.m. on Friday when No. 10 Northwood will take on No. 5 Concordia (Ore.). All four teams will participate in a Habitat for Humanity project on Saturday before returning to action on Sunday. The Eagles will face Concordia at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Northwood and Kansas Wesleyan will close out the tournament with a 1:30 p.m. contest.