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Soccer falls in closing moments to Murray State

MSU Athletics

After Morehead State Soccer tied the match at 1-1 on a goal by senior Ashley Ritchie in the 86th minute, Murray State's Izzy Heckman banged in the match-winning goal from 20-yards out with under a minute remaining to give the Racers a 2-1 victory over the Eagles in Ohio Valley Conference play on Friday evening at the MSU Recreation & Wellness Intramural Field.

Murray State came into Friday's match having outscored its previous three conference opponents 15-1 while Morehead State inversely used the power of great defense to register three-straight shutout wins.

In Friday's match, the Eagles gritty defense and the Racers high powered offense held true. Despite conceding 24 shots and 17 shots on goal, Morehead State utilized a bend-don't-break game plan that was made possible by their reigning OVC Goalkeeper of the Week Kayla Landman who picked up where she has left off after an award-winning week.

Landman, who is in her freshman year after prepping at Henry Ford II High School in Michigan, looked to be a grizzled veteran on her way to making a career-best 14 saves. Landman's 14 stops are the most for an Eagles' goalkeeper since Leslie King set the single-game school record for saves on Sept. 17, 2006 with 18 against Grand Valley State (Mich.).

Murray State put its self in the driver's seat midway through the first half thanks to a goal in the 26th minute on a penalty kick by the OVC's top scorer Miyah Watford. Watford's 11th goal of the 2019 season, which just got by Landman's outstretched arms and into bottom left corner of the goal, put the Racers ahead 1-0. The forward earned the trip to the penalty stripe after Morehead State senior defender Ellie Weber was called for a foul while trying to defend Watford on an attack.

The Eagles continued to fend off the Racers attack until the halftime whistle. At the midway point, Murray State had fired 11 shots with eight on target versus the two shots that were non-threating.

In opening of the final 45 minutes, the Eagles began to find possession and win the battle in the midfield.

Before they home squad could turn their newfound possession advantage into much needed offence, Murray State's Abby Jones was fouled by Landman in the box and was awarded a penalty kick. The foul earned Landman her first-career yellow card but the freshman composed herself and turned away Jones chance to put the Racers ahead by two goals. This miss was the first for Murray State at the penalty stripe in its four attempts during the season.

After the momentous penalty kick save, Landman made back-to-back crucial saves as she denied Watford on a rebound from the penalty miss and corralled a header attempt by Josselle Morcehe to hold her team's deficit at 1-0 in the 68th minute.

Eventually, the strong play in the midfield translated to shot attempts as the home squad fired four shots from the 75th minute forward until Ritchie finally broke up the shutout and tied the match in the 86th with a header goal from inside the goalie box that was assisted by sophomore Nicole Palmer.

After suffering a fractured vertebra that caused her to miss the entire 2018 season and a torn achilleas tendon earlier this spring that caused her to miss the first three matches of 2019, Ritchie booked a season-best 48 minutes and nabbed career-goal 11. It was the New Haven, Ky., native's first goal since Sept. 24, 2017 in a Morehead State victory over UT Martin at home.

Unfortunately for Ritchie and the Eagles, the Racers answered back in less than three minutes when Heckman finally cracked to code to Landman's locked-down goal with 50 seconds remaining. Morehead State had no answer and faced defeat for its first time in three matches.

The win moves Murray State 7-5 overall and a league best 4-0 in the OVC.

For the Eagles, their overall tally slides to 4-7-1 while their OVC record gets its first loss and now sits a 2-1-1.

Morehead State will now shift its focus to a Sunday road matchup against OVC challenger Eastern Illinois at Lakeside Field in Charleston, Ill. The Panthers host after scoring a 3-1 win at home over Jacksonville State that ended a three-game skid. Overall EIU is 2-7-1 while sporting a 1-3-1 league record.

Last season against Eastern Illinois in Morehead, the Eagles suffered a 1-0 setback after allowing a late goal.

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