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Middle Tennessee clinches No. 2 seed as senior class says goodbye

Blue Raiders seal fifth straight shutout

October 29, 2010 · Athletic Communications

Sun Belt Tournament Bracket

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee soccer program clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Tournament, picking up a 2-0 home win Friday night over rival Western Kentucky on Senior Night at Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Blue Raiders honored the five-member senior class with festivities after the match, recognizing its on and off the field accomplishments the last four seasons.

On the field Friday night, however, it was the underclassmen who stepped up and led Middle Tennessee (12-8, 9-2 Sun Belt) to its ninth win in its last 10 games and fifth consecutive shutout. Junior goalkeeper Rebecca Cushing stopped six Lady Topper shots, including a pair of leaping, diving saves in the first half, to extend her streak of allowing a goal or less in 12 straight contests, dating back to September 19.

She was assisted along the backline by stellar defensive play, as the back four kept Western Kentucky (8-8-2, 6-5 Sun Belt) from having clear chances at the cage, often intercepting passes or using slide tackles to win possession outside the 18-yard box.

Sophomore Paige Goeglein netted her fourth goal of the campaign to give the Blue Raiders a 1-0 lead at 16:25. Redshirt sophomore Regina Thomas raced past the WKU defense on the right flank before sending a cross into the penalty area. Goeglein, in the middle of the field, sprinted towards the pass and one-touched it past Western Kentucky goalkeeper Libby Stout.

Middle Tennessee was not finished adding marks on the scoreboard, as exactly 20 minutes later, at 36:25, junior Hope Suominen provided the winning margin. Sophomore Whitney Jorgenson and Thomas shared a pass between each other, before finding Suominen within the 18-yard box for the 2-0 edge.

The Lady Toppers tried various strategies in the second half to break the scoreless drought, including inserting nine substitutions at one time in the lineup, but the Blue Raiders stifled any attempt at WKU's offensive attack.

The Middle Tennessee senior class, consisting of Jaimee Cooper, Fran Howells, Emily Harris, Vanessa Mueggler and Emily Snowdon, all saw action throughout the match. The five players were able to play the final nine minutes on the field together, receiving a warm reception from the Blue Raider faithful on the coldest night of the season.

By virtue of finishing as the No. 2 seed for the Sun Belt Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Bowling Green, Ky., the Blue Raiders garnered their highest spot in the eight-team field since also earning the No. 2 seed in 2006 after posting a 10-1 league record.

Middle Tennessee's No. 7-seeded opponent in the first round will be Florida Atlantic with the match set for 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Blue Raiders dropped a 1-0 decision to the Owls in Boca Raton Oct. 8, their last loss before winning six consecutive games to close the regular season.

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