Women’s soccer falls one point short of conference tournament

By Samantha Meyer

The Cleveland State University women’s soccer team finished their 2019 season on Nov. 1 with a 3-2 win against Wright State University. However, the Vikings’ 6-8-3 overall record wasn’t enough to secure a spot in the postseason, forcing their season to an early end.

The struggle to qualify for postseason began with Cleveland State’s loss to Youngstown State University on Oct. 2. 

The team played well against the Penguins, but faced difficulty against their goalkeeper Kate McEachern. McEachern had seven saves in goal for Youngstown State, shutting out Cleveland State’s offense. While the ladies had a 20-6 shot advantage, the 1-0 final score reflected their struggle to score.

With a big loss fresh in their minds, the Vikings knew it was important to defeat Oakland University if they wanted a chance to compete in the Horizon League Championship Tournament, which only the top six teams in the conference qualify for.

Qualifying for the tournament was very important for last years’ Horizon League runners-up. Unfortunately, their dreams of qualifying took a hit after a 2-2 tie against Oakland.

The game began poorly, with Oakland taking a two-goal lead over in the first half. Even with a two-point deficit, Cleveland State did not get discouraged. In the 71st minute, freshman Rylee Bussen scored her first career goal for Cleveland State after an assist from fellow freshman Lina Feltovich. They went on to tie the game with less than three minutes left in regulation. In the 87th minute, freshman Grace Krosky nabbed a stray ball and planted in the goal, tying up the game for Cleveland State. They were not able to capitalize on their momentum and get the win.

The games to follow would help decide Cleveland State’s eligibility for the postseason tournament. They faced Northern Kentucky University on Oct. 12, defeating the team 3-0. The Vikings then traveled to Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis on Oct. 19, but lost 1-0. On Oct. 23, the team hosted their final home game against the University of Detroit Mercy. The game attracted a crowd of family and friends, who helped rally Cleveland State to a 1-0 win against the Titans. This win gave Cleveland State a 3-3-1 Horizon League record.

The Vikings found themselves on the border of tournament qualification with a .500 conference record. They went into game play against the University of Illinois-Chicago on Oct. 27th, hoping to gain another win under their belt, but the Vikings struggled against the Flames.

The team fought hard during the game, but had trouble defending their goal against the Flames. UIC scored their first goal in the 43rd minute. When the second period rolled around, the Flames added two additional goals to increase to a three-point lead over the Vikings and defeated them by that margin, with a final score of 3-0. This made Cleveland State’s Horizon league record 3-4-1, pushing them to seventh place in the Horizon League standings. Only two points behind Northern Kentucky, the Vikings needed to defeat Wright State and needed Detroit Mercy to defeat Northern Kentucky in order for them to secure a spot in the Championship tournament.

With fate no longer in their own hands all the Vikings could do was beat Wright State and hope for the best. On Nov. 1, they accomplished their goal, defeating Wright State 3-2. Junior Essence Canady, Krosky and junior Grace Grant each scored a goal for the Vikings. Despite their victory, the team missed the mark for postseason consideration when Northern Kentucky beat Detroit Mercy 2-0.

While the Vikings came up short of the postseason, they had some notable postseason recognitions. Senior Toni Dickson earned recognition on the 2019 Horizon League Women’s Soccer All-Academic team. This is Dickson’s second time earning this recognition, which honors great performance in the classroom and on the field.

Also earning Horizon League Honors were junior Elena Gutlove and Krosky. Gutlove was selected to the All-Horizon League Second Team, finishing the 2019 season with three goals and three assists. Krosky was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team, leading the team with four goals.

After a disappointing missed opportunity, the women’s team looks forward to postseason, where they can touch up on their skills. With this season over, head coach Dallas Boyer looks forward to the incoming 2020 class and hopes both the new and old talent will be enough to secure a spot in the Horizon League Tournament next year.

The team will lose seven seniors at graduation, but all seven Vikings who scored goals will return next year. The Vikings will also return starting goalkeeper, junior Stevie Holbrook.