WOMEN’s SOCCER: Last home game ends in tie

Beth Wilberding

After suffering a tie and a loss in its last two games, Western’s women’s soccer team was ready to get a win in its last home game of the season against Middle Tennessee Friday.

And goalie Melissa Bailey, the team’s lone senior, hoped not only for a win after being injured Oct. 12, but also for a Senior Night victory.

But for the second consecutive Friday, the Lady Toppers settled for a tie, 1-1.

In the first half, neither team played well offensively, as both teams put nine shots on goal. In the 23rd minute, Bailey tripped, but the Blue Raiders were unable to sneak the ball past her.

“There were two games,” Western coach Jason Neidell said. “In the first half, the teams were lethargic.

“In the second half, the teams were battling it out,” he said. “The second half was an exciting and energizing game between two great teams.”

Western got on the board first when junior defender Erica Baker scored 10 minutes into the half. Sophomore defender Jenny Dalby lofted a corner kick into the box where Baker deposited the ball into the right corner of the net.

The Lady Toppers defense kept the Blue Raiders quiet until the 81st minute, when Bailey couldn’t stop freshman Rebecca Rodriguez from scoring her 10th goal of the season.

In the first overtime, junior Betsy Duncan had an open look at the goal with less than 10 seconds left, but pulled her shot left.

Defense continued to dominate the second overtime, but the Blue Raiders missed an opportunity to score when Bailey was pulled from the net in the fourth minute and senior midfielder Emily Carter missed heading the ball into the goal.

For the second time this season, the Lady Toppers had to accept a tie instead of a win.

“A win’s like kissing your boyfriend (for the players),” Neidell said. “A tie’s like kissing your sister. We’d rather kiss our boyfriend.”

MTSU coach Aston Rhoden said he was proud of how his team played.

“I think being one goal down, it was good seeing us come back,” Rhoden said. “Western’s a good team and played well the whole game. A tie’s better than a loss. This game could’ve gone either way.”

Not only was it Bailey’s first game back since injuring her little finger against Arkansas-Little Rock, it was also her last regular season home game.

“It was a very tough game mentally,” Bailey said. “I was very nervous at the beginning.”

Bailey said she tried not to think about it being her last game at Western.

“I didn’t want to get too emotional,” she said. “I thought more about the game than Senior Night.”

Reach Beth Wilberding at [email protected]