Women’s soccer searching for a win

Layne Saliba

Coming off a three-game losing streak, the Georgia Southern women’s soccer team (9-5-1, 4-3) will play their last two Sun Belt Conference games at home this weekend before tournament play begins.

The Eagles are looking to bounce back after dropping the past three decisions with a combined score of 7-0. That means that the Eagles haven’t scored a goal since Oct. 5. That’s not an easy pill to swallow, but it’s Georgia Southern’s reality right now.

Luckily, the Eagles have only dropped one spot in the conference standings over the past three games. They are now tied for third place with Troy (12-5, 4-3) and Appalachian State (7-9, 4-3).

The Eagles will get their chance to jump ahead of Appalachian State in the standings on Sunday. But first, they have to get past a No. 2 Texas State (10-5-1, 5-2).

Georgia Southern vs. Texas State

Georgia Southern’s offense must show up in a big way in order to get a win against Texas State. There has to be a sense of urgency that hasn’t been evident over the past few weeks when it comes to scoring, and there needs to be goals as early as possible for the Eagles.

However, Texas State won’t wait around for Georgia Southern. They will be coming out trying to defend their No. 2 spot in every way possible. The Bobcats have posted an average of 16.8 shots per game and the Eagles should expect that same effort when they arrive at Eagle Field.

The Bobcat’s junior goalkeeper Caitlynn Rinehart has 52 saves on the season and will be ready to defend the net against Georgia Southern’s average of 12.9 shots per game. The Eagles will have to find a way to create opportunities and increase that number in order to challenge Rinehart between the posts.

Georgia Southern’s defense must come ready to play as well. Defenders will have to play a hard 90 minutes to keep the ball on the opposing side of the field. In addition, Georgia Southern’s redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Merson will have to try and stay spotless and not let any shots pass her if the ball comes her way so that the Eagles won’t have to play catch up.

With players like sophomore forward Melinda Lukas, junior forward Nora El-Shami, junior midfielder Stephanie Gratto and sophomore forward Jennifer Wittick, it will be hard to know where the shots will come from. But if the Eagles are able to pass the ball around and put the ball in the back of the net, they should be able to come out with a much needed win on Friday.

Georgia Southern vs. Appalachian State

It’s always an exciting time when the Eagles play the Mountaineers. No matter what the record shows, or how the statistics look, you never know what to expect.

With that being said, the statistics between the two teams do line up fairly nice. Both teams score about the same number of goals and post nearly the same number of shots every time they are on the field.

Yet, Merson has 20 more saves than the opposing keeper, who has also let six more shots go by than Merson has this season.

That doesn’t mean that anything will come easy for the Eagles, including Merson. She will have her work cut out for her. Appalachian State has posted 98 shots on goal this season. That’s 10 more than Georgia Southern has been able to do.

Junior forward Sam Childress is the leading scorer for the Mountaineers. She has had 11 shots on goal while scoring on five of those. The Eagles will have to defend her well and not let her get near the net in order to not give up any goals.

An advantage that the Eagles take into the game is that the widespread scoring on the team will make it difficult for Appalachian State to defend. The Eagles like to get the ball to a number of different players and score whenever a chance comes their way.

With a win on Sunday, Georgia Southern could clinch the No. 3 spot in the conference. Add a win on Friday, and No. 2 could be theirs as well.