Coming into their match against Southern Conference standings leader Samford, the Bucs were rolling.
They came into the match with a three-game winning streak in SoCon play and a record of 9-4-2 and 4-1-1 in conference play. The one tie in conference play coming a week before against the Chattanooga Mocs.
The Bucs facing Samford was a tough physical game.
“I was happy with how our girls competed particularly in a game as fast-paced as it was,” said Head Coach Adam Sayers.
Samford scored the first goal, which came at the 28-minute mark by Anna Allen (Vestavia Hills, Ala.). She was assisted by Taylor Meneide (Marietta, Ga.).
As for the Bucs’ defense, it had it’s mistakes, but the team stayed composed throughout the match. The Bucs ended up with three saves for the match. Samford increased their lead when Sara Smeltzer (Birmingham, Ala.) scored at the 36-minute mark. She was assisted by Korrie Sauder (Franklin, TN) and Emily Jones (Valrico, Fl.). Samford went into the half leading 2-0. It was the first time during their three-game winning streak that the Buccaneers failed to score in the first half.
“Ultimately I think we had a good start,” Sayers said. “We battled while making good decisions. I’m happy with how we played.”
In the second half, Samford scored its third score of the day to increase its lead to 3-0 when Malcanisha Kelley (Childersburg, Ala) scored from an assist by Kaitlyn Orman (Atlanta, Ga) and Ella Baggett (Clarksville, TN). For Samford they were aggressive throughout the game — of the 13 shots they took, six were at the goal.
Their defense was solid as well, having eight saves for the game.
The Bucs fell, losing 3-0. The ETSU offense had its opportunities to score, but just couldn’t get a goal. Of the 10 shots they took, eight were at the goal. Surprisingly enough, scoring machine sophomore Eleonora Goldoni (Ferrara, Italy) was held scoreless.
“Last year she was injured, so she spent the offseason getting healthy,” Sayers said. “She’s a brilliant and great player, she’s always been, but she’ll tell you it’s a team effort that put her in a position to succeed.”
With the loss, the Bucs record goes to 9-5-2 and 4-2-1, dropping them to fourth in the conference.
For the Bucs, they can use this match against a well-played team to finish the season strong.
“We need to continue to work on aspects of the game, such as fundamentals, quick transitioning, and attacking the opposition,” Sayers said.
As far as the conference tournament coming up, Sayers knows the importance of finishing right to be able to get the seeding that could ultimately help the team advance.
“For us, winning the league would be huge for the program, but also getting a high seed going into the tournament,” Sayers said.