For the second consecutive year, the UTM women’s soccer team clinched an Ohio Valley Conference championship after defeating Southeast Missouri, 1-0 in double overtime. On a night in which five Skyhawk seniors were recognized, it was senior Abi Sanvee who lifted the home team to its second OVC season championship in as many years with a double-overtime golden goal.
With the victory, the Skyhawks (10-8-1, 8-2 OVC) not only secured the right to host next week’s OVC Tournament on Nov. 7-10, but sealed their place in conference history. UTM has now won four consecutive OVC titles, including two season and tournament crowns each, marking the first time in conference history that a team has accomplished such a feat.
The Skyhawks outshot the visiting Redhawks 39-6 on evening before Sanvee’s final shot of the evening proved to be the game’s deciding goal. Freshman Aoife Lennon led the aggressive Skyhawks with nine shots on the evening, including three shots placed on goal. Junior Alyssa Curtis trailed Lennon’s pace with six shots, placing four of which on goal. Individually, seven players tallied three shots or more on the night, while a total of 10 players placed at least one shot.
Defensively, UTM pitched its eighth shutout of the season and fifth of the conference slate. Ignoring the offensive statistics of the game, it was the Skyhawk defensive line of Lucy Pater, Amy Maksimowicz, Hannah Fessenden and Jessica Horvatich which dominated the game. The defensive quartet held a Southeast Missouri offense which tallied four goals in its last game, to just six total shots on the night and more importantly, two shots on goal.
In goal it was junior Mariah Klenke who continued to impress, notching her seven shutout of the season. Already ranking amongst the leaders in nearly every statistical category as a goalkeeper, Klenke tallied two saves on the evening in 110 minutes of action.
Southeast Missouri (8-6-3, 6-2-2 OVC) would look to Storm French to pace the Redhawks with two shots on the night, both of which on goal. It was goalkeeper Ashton Aubuchon who nearly stole the show on the night, tallying several difficult saves to preserve the scoreless match into the second overtime period. Aubuchon tallied 13 saves on the night before allowing the lone deciding goal late in the contest.
“I thought the girls were absolutely fantastic tonight,” said UTM soccer coach Phil McNamara. “For sure the best we’ve played this year. I thought we were aggressive while still being patient. We were very profession and organized as we were able to move the ball and get the finishing goal by Abi Sanvee.”
“To win four consecutive championships, which has never been done in the history of the OVC, is quite incredible,” McNamara continued. “It for sure puts us along some great teams over the years in Eastern Illinois in the early 2000s, then Samford came in behind that and with SEMO in the late 2000s winning three on the trot. It says a lot not only for this year’s team, but for past years as well. It’s just another piece of history that we’re chopping off at UTM, we’re having fun and enjoying the ride.”
Prior to tonight’s contest, the Skyhawks honored their five graduating seniors. Seniors Hannah McGowen, Fessenden, Sarah Tompkins, Horvatich and Sanvee were all recognized for their numerous individual and team accomplishments.
“They are arguably the most honored group of soccer players who have came through here,” stated McNamara. “They are classy individuals. Hannah McGowen has just been outstanding for this program. For Hannah Fessenden to come back and play this year, was the signing of the year and the cherry on the top. Sarah has won games for us this year and has been our most consistent player off the bench. Jessica Horvatich has been a rock and provided a lot of pace for us this year. Of course Abi getting the goal on senior night is great for her experience at UTM. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of seniors.”
The Skyhawks came out firing in tonight’s title match, placing their first shot on goal just 39 seconds into action as Curtis’s attempted was saved by Aubuchon. UTM would put together an impressive offensive push throughout the duration of the first half, tallying 15 of 16 shot attempts from the first 10 minutes on. The Skyhawks held a 17-3 advantage in the shot column going into the first break.
Much like the first, after Southeast Missouri tallied the second half’s opening shot, the Skyhawks would respond with 16 consecutive shots. UTM’s best scoring opportunity of many came in the 69th minute as Lennon placed a header just wide. McGowen quickly took the rebound but her shot attempt at the net would be saved off one of many diving snags by the Southeast Missouri goalkeeper.
The game’s physical nature continued to look like a prize fight late in the match as several players were involved in collisions. As regulation drew to a close, UTM’s defense hardly missed a beat as Klenke tallied her final save of the night with just seconds to play.
In the first overtime period, UTM would place three shot attempts, but it was the team’s lone attempt in the second overtime period which stood out above all else. As the second overtime period opened, Dominika Conc found Sanvee in the open. Conc’s soft pass set up Sanvee perfectly from eight yards out to beat the keeper and lift the Skyhawks to the victory and OVC title. Sanvee’s goal was her team leading fifth of the year and fourth game winner in the game’s 102nd minute.
With the victory the Skyhawks have clinched the right to host next week’s OVC Tournament on Nov. 7-10. The Skyhawks will have to wait to find out their opponent as they will play the winner of Thursday’s No. 4 and No. 6 seed match on Friday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. All matches will be held at Skyhawk Field.