Originally Published: September 13, 2018 10:52 p.m.
Hodges scores in final 2 minutes of 2nd OT to win it for Eagles
SPRING ARBOR, Mich. — The NAIA No. 17-ranked Embry-Riddle women’s soccer team, in the midst of its toughest stretch of the 2018 season, notched one of the biggest victories in program history on Thursday, Sept. 13.
On the campus of Spring Arbor University, Embry-Riddle upset No. 8 Marian University of Indianapolis 1-0 in double overtime with top-ranked defending national champion and host Spring Arbor waiting in the wings on Saturday.
With 1 minute and 48 seconds left in the second OT Thursday, freshman Morgan Hodges of Flagstaff scored on an assist from junior Parker Lee to win it for Embry-Riddle at the Cougar Soccer Complex, located about 87 miles west of Detroit.
“The ladies fought hard, and I’m so proud of them,” ERAU coach Todd Poitras said. “We talked at the beginning of the year about wanting to make a statement, and make sure people understand that we really do belong in that Top 15 and wanting to get in the Top 10.”
On the game-winning goal, Lee played the ball out wide to Hodges near the 18-yard line and Hodges kicked the ball with her right foot toward the goal. The ball bounced across the face of the goal, and, initially, no one on either team thought the ball would go in, Poitras said.
“I think the goalkeeper thought it was wide,” Poitras added. “It bounced twice, and clipped right inside the back post. Out of all the shots that we took [Thursday], that’s the one that snuck in. It was one of those weird ones.”
With the win, the Eagles improved their record to 5-1-0 overall. Their lone loss came at home on Aug. 24, a 1-0 setback to No. 25 Eastern Oregon. Since then, ERAU has rattled off four straight wins, three of which were shutouts.
Meanwhile, Marian dropped to 5-2-0, snapping its four-match winning streak.
“We knew all along where we belong,” Poitras said. “I think we were underrated to start the season at [No.] 14 anyway. But [Thursday] just proves that that’s the kind of soccer we’re capable of playing. So, we can play with anybody, including teams inside the Top 10. And, on our best night, that’s definitely where we belong.”
If Embry-Riddle can find a way to win Saturday’s match at Spring Arbor, it would put the Eagles squarely on the NAIA map.
In 2017, Embry-Riddle lost 4-2 to current NAIA No. 1-ranked Spring Arbor in the national quarterfinals on Nov. 28, and the Eagles are seeking redemption. ERAU was the only opponent at last year’s nationals to score on Spring Arbor.
Poitras said Saturday’s result will likely come down to the matchup between Spring Arbor’s high-powered attack and the Eagles’ stingy defense. Poitras credited his entire back-row defense, including senior center back Adri Jackson and junior midfielder Andie Dean, for their efforts Thursday.
“After playing 106 minutes, or whatever the total was [Thursday], we will be getting rest and recuperation [Friday], and treatment for some of those who have injuries, things like that,” Poitras said. “We’re certainly up for the challenge. There’s a reason why they’re the defending national champs and No. 1 in the country.
“And we’re certainly looking forward to that next challenge as well. It’s a team that we’re prepared for, and we’re going to give them our best on Saturday afternoon.”
Embry-Riddle battles No. 1 Spring Arbor (4-0-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, on the latter’s home field in Michigan.
Marian plays host to No. 12 Northwestern Ohio (2-2-2) at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, in Indianapolis.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.