Junior Ellie Tillar scored a beautiful headed goal late in the game to send the Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer team past the University of Akron by a score of 3-2 Sunday afternoon in Ypsilanti.
Using its ninth different starting lineup in 12 games, Eastern Michigan (4-7-1; 1-3-0 MAC) scored three goals, two of which were put in the goal off of set pieces to try and catch momentum and beat Akron. The Eagles secured its first Mid-American Conference victory of the season against the Zips (4-7-1; 1-3 MAC).
The Eagles won a free kick 45 seconds into the match, a few seconds later junior Rachel Washburn stepped over the ball and sent a soaring ball into the box, finding junior Gabriella Mancini. Mancini took the ball one-touch and sent it into the net one minute and five seconds into the match. The goal was Mancini’s first of the season.
“The goal made the momentum of the game,” Mancini said. “Scoring the first goal within the first minute of the game told the team that we could win and we could do this.”
Eastern Michigan continued to pressure its opponent, sending numbers forward and controlling possession pretty clearly. Then, the Eagles added its second tally of the match in the 22nd minute, when redshirt junior Jennifer Bentley sent a throw in to freshman Peyton Davis who in turn sent a cross into the box. The ball found the foot of Michelle Rollins, who then fired a shot near post to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
The goal was Rollins first of her collegiate career, as well as Davis’ first collegiate assist.
In the 27th minute, freshman goalkeeper Kaylin Williams found herself on the wrong side of a yellow card for a challenge made in the box that would lead to an Akron penalty kick and subsequent goal to bring the score to 2-1 at halftime.
Tillar, who had yet to score a goal this season, scored an absolutely beautiful headed goal in the 61st minute after the Eagles had won a corner in the attacking third. Washburn is usually the player elected to take corner kicks, but this time junior Madison Hirsch stepped up to put the ball into the box. Tillar made a run near post and put the ball into the back of the net off of an exquisite header into the upper corner.
Akron would add a late goal to try and spark a comeback in the 81st minute, a low driven free kick would leave Williams vulnerable, and a header by Sarah Sivic would give the Zips its second goal, with hopes to salvage a draw.
The Eagles defense worked hard for the last nine minutes of the game, preserving a much needed Eastern Michigan victory with a final score of 3-2.
“Two goals were scored that I think we could prevent, so there are still things that we need to work on,” Eagles coach Scott Hall said. “We scored two goals off of set-pieces, but we need to score more goals in the run of play.
“We put two kids into the line-up today to see if they could give us a little push, and they did. Hopefully this will give us a little momentum to get us going forward.”
Hall wanted to shake-up the lineup on Sunday, but not for disciplinary reasons against girls that typically start, but rather to try and find a combination that would work.
“Everybody works hard, but I feel like we had the best line-up out for the last two games but we couldn’t find any goals,” Hall said. “And as a coach you see that everyone is working hard, you have to get people into the game and see what they can do.”
“Yeah, it’s three points, of course it’s a fulfilling win.”
The Eagles will travel to Mount Pleasant to take on Central Michigan University Friday, Oct. 9 to try and secure back-to-back MAC wins to keep playoff hopes alive.