Sep 1, 2013
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Hattiesburg, Miss. - After back-to-back convincing wins, the Southern Miss soccer team was due some drama and Sunday's home match against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions proved chock full of heart-stopping moments as the Golden Eagles notched a 1-0, double-overtime win.
"Wow," first-year coach Mohammed El-Zare said, "I am so proud of this entire team. We played a great match against a solid, well-coached team. We were aggressive and controlled the tempo of the match and gave ourselves a lot of chances. I thought we showed a lot of maturity and a lot of unity sticking together through such a hard-fought match. I could not be prouder."
Southern Miss (3-0-1) was the more aggressive team throughout the match and got off 18 shots in regulation but thanks to several key stops by Southeastern keeper Hope Sabadash (3-1), who finished with 11 saves, the Golden Eagles were held scoreless until the 104th minute.
With just six minutes to play, redshirt junior Missy Wentz, with an assist from redshirt freshman Kay Kay Hypolite, placed the ball in the upper right corner of the net from 25 yards away to end the contest on a "golden goal."
It was a big moment for a player who has been nursing some injuries.
"Missy has been working her way back," El-Zare said. "We've been seeing glimpses of the Missy we know. Today was a great moment for her and I am happy that she was rewarded with a great goal."
Wentz might have ended the game, and helped drop Southeastern to 3-1 on the year, but the drama was never-ending in the latter minutes of the contest.
Perhaps the most memorable defensive moment of the match occurred with 2:03 to play in the first overtime when a misplayed ball gave Southeastern's Casey Peacock a point-blank shot at a game-ending goal of her own with just freshman keeper Brittany Taylor to stop her.
Taylor proved up to the challenge and made a diving save to keep the match alive.
As has been the custom early in the season, Taylor (1-0-1) split keeping duties with redshirt senior Lindsey Schwaner and, for third consecutive game, the duo posted a clean sheet, this time making a combined nine saves.
"I thought both of our goalies did another fantastic job," El-Zare. "Lindsey did great in the first half and Brittany came through in the second half and overtime. She kept us in the game with (the overtime) save. She came up big in that spot and we needed her to."
Though her name did not appear in the box score, El-Zare added that true freshman defender Adriana Garcia was the unsung hero of the match.
"Adriana played an amazing game on the back line," El-Zare said. "She turned away a lot of opportunities for them. She's come a long way in just four short weeks. She was one of many players who really came through for us. Like I said, I am proud of this entire team."
And pleased, El-Zare said, with a coaching and training staff that has kept his team focused and prepared to the tune of the best for the program since 2008, a year in which the Golden Eagles went 3-0-1 to start the season.
"I can't say enough about the job my staff has done this year," El-Zare said. "My assistants and our training staff could not have done any better in helping the girls get ready for this weekend. A lot of credit goes to them. We couldn't do any of this without them. "
The Golden Eagles will remain at home for two more matches, a showdown with South Alabama at 4 p.m. Friday followed by a meeting with Mississippi State at 1 p.m. Sunday.