Mercy shuts out women soccer loses second game in a row
Michael Riccio – Sports Editor
Southern welcomed back former head coach Jim O’Brien Wednesday night, but could not muster a goal as Mercy beat the Owls 1-0.
Coming into the game ranked No. 7 in Division II, Mercy (10-1, 5-0) won their ninth game in row. O’Brien, who was the first women’s soccer coach at Southern from 1996-2004, led the Owls to a 105-56-8 record during his nine-year stint at the helm.
Current Owls (8-5, 7-3) head coach Adam Cohen said Mercy was a “very tough opponent” but at this point in the season he said Southern was just thinking of themselves.
Julia Conway scored her first career goal during the game’s second minute to give Mercy a 1-0 lead. The Owls defense did not allow another goal the rest of the game. Cohen said he wanted his team to keep pressure on the ball at midfield.
“[We] wanted to try to see if that could lead to some goal scoring chances for us, from how we defended,” Cohen said.
Captain Mikaela Magee said the team was able to figure out how Mercy was switching the ball on attacks and felt the team played better defensively in the second half.
“Towards the end of the first half we were able to shut them down and were able to attack the way we need to attack,” Magee said. “We were able to rotate faster in the second half.”
To begin the second half, Allie Smith made her first appearance of the season, replacing Tamra Zippin as the goalkeeper. Smith, who played on the basketball team during her first three years at Southern, said she was prepared to come in to the game.
“I’ve been practicing with them for a month now because I recently joined,” Smith said. “The coaches were really helpful getting me up to speed and we had a little shoot around this morning with one of the goalie coaches, which was really helpful.”
Zippin and Smith both finished with two saves against six shots faced. Cohen said the plan coming into the game was to bring Smith in for the second half. Smith said she’ll use what she learned today for any future games she plays in and credited her teammates for helping her be ready for the game.
“It was really cool,” Smith said. “The girls are amazing. They help you out as much as they can.”
The Owls were shut out for the fourth time this season, but three of the shutouts came within the first six games of the year. Facing a Mercy defense that has allowed just six goals all season, Cohen said it was difficult for the Owls to get a hold of the ball and create chances. Magee said the Owls had to get used to the speed of play but the team improved towards the end of the game.
“It was a high pressure, high intensity game,” Magee said. “As the game went on we started playing faster and we had some chances in the second half.”
The Owls will try to stop their two game losing skid against a Bentley on Saturday, who have also lost two games in row and will enter with a 3-5-3 record. Cohen said they will have to turn around fast in preparation for the game.
“We have two days and then we go up to Bentley,” Cohen said. “We have to put our heads together and watch a lot of video over the next 24 hours and put a good plan together.”