Leathernecks show resilience in comeback win


Brandon Ringo/ Photo Staff

Bridget Schuler goes up for a header.

Bradley Piros , Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois women’s soccer team kicked their season off right at home with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Missouri State University Bears. Western lost their previous two matches to MSU, but it seems like the third time’s the charm.

It didn’t take long for the Bears to gain the lead when Ashley Coonfield put one in the back of the net only two minutes in. After that early slip up though, Western dominated the next 20 minutes.

The onslaught of attack began with a couple shots by sophomore defender Zoe Clarke, but the first went wide and goalkeeper Kaitlin Maxwell saved the second. Clarke’s second shot awarded Western a corner kick, however they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

After a couple of fouls on Western, Clarke would once again unleash a shot that initially got blocked. It once again led to a corner kick for the Leathernecks. The free kick was once again unsuccessful, but Western stayed on the front foot. Sophomore Cassidy Grunewald let go of another shot, but Maxwell saved it.

After a long spell of possession for the Leathernecks, sophomore Amy Andrews was finally able to tie the game up at 1-1. Grunewald and junior midfielder Natalie Nagle with their couple of quick passes assisted the goal.

After the goal, MSU made a couple of substitutions, which led to a little spark of offense toward the end of the first half. The Leathernecks’ defense stayed strong to keep the game tied heading into halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the Leathernecks struck first from senior forward Emily Bollman, but her shot sailed wide. It was back and forth play until the 61st minute when Western won yet another corner kick.

The bouncing ball fell perfectly at the feet of junior midfielder Bridget Schuler, who smashed it with a beautiful one-time shot into the upper corner of the net to take the lead 2-1.

MSU tried to bounce back but were unable to find a way around Western’s defense. It was a lackluster start, but a win’s a win. Director of soccer, Eric Johnson, was pleased with his side’s resilience.

“We escaped a poor start today,” Johnson said. “But we recovered enough to be in the game in the second half. Two good goals from our side and a better second half got us a home win. Proud of our effort.”

In the end, Western outshot their opposition 9-5 and 5-3 SOG and were able to pick up a comeback win.

Full of confidence riding a three-game winning streak, Western will move on to play Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis on the road this Friday. The game will be on ESPN+ for watching and begins at 7 p.m. under the lights.