The Murray State soccer team is one step closer to defending their Ohio Valley Conference Championship title. The Racers defeated Eastern Illinois 1-0 in the semifinal round of the OVC Tournament on Friday in Martin, Tennessee.
With the win, the Racers (12-4-1, 8-3 OVC) are now set to face top-seeded UT Martin in the OVC Championship game on Sunday. Murray State looks to bring the hardware back home to Murray for the third time in four seasons after OVC title runs in 2015 and 2017.
Alex Steigerwald got things started for Murray State, after coming up with a big save just five minutes into action. With the save, Steigerwald etched her name in the MSU record books for the third time this season as she passed Tara Isbell (2007-2010) for the MSU career saves record with 294.
The Racers jumped out to an early lead in the 13th minute, as Miyah Watford received a pass from OVC Freshman of the Year Abby Jones and beat the EIU goalkeeper from seven yards out to give the Racers the 1-0 advantage. It was the ninth goal of the season for Watford, who also earned All-OVC First Team honors early this week.
Murray State controlled the pace of the first half but failed to find the back of the net for the remainder of the opening stanza. MSU logged 15 shots with six on target compared to three shots from the Panthers heading into the half with two on net heading into the half.
Eastern Illinois had a prime scoring opportunity in the second period when forward Eva Munoz managed to break free from MSU defenders at the 66:25 mark. Fortunately for the Racers, Alex Steigerwald came up with a save in a diving effort to maintain the 1-0 MSU lead.
MSU had several close scoring chances of their own in the second half, including shots by Izzy Heckman and Rebecca Kubin that each sailed into the crossbar. The Racers finished with 25 shots with nine on goal while holding the Panthers to just eight shots on the contest with four on the net.
Murray State now prepares to face a UT Martin squad that is undefeated in OVC action on the season at Skyhawk Field in Martin at 2 p.m. on Sunday.