Welcome to The Doghouse, a weekly column recapping Union University sports action from the weekend.
This weekend at Union, the women’s soccer team tied the visiting Tusculum College Pioneers, the men’s soccer team defeated the visiting Oakland City University Mighty Oaks and the volleyball team went 2-2 at an invitational in Bolivar, Missouri.
On Friday, the women’s soccer game started with a scoreless first half, but the pace of play picked up in the second. In the 77th minute, Tusculum forward Carly Mill, sophomore, found midfielder/forward Carly Culler, sophomore, who scored from outside the box and into the bottom right corner of the goal.
It took the Lady Bulldogs longer to put up a score. In the 87th minute of play, Pioneer defender Carlie Thornber, junior, received a red card in the box, setting up Union midfielder Sarah Hershbain, senior, for a penalty kick. Hershbain ripped the ball past senior goal keeper Miriah Martin’s right side into the back of the net.
“I was just thrilled that we were able to equalize and tie it up,” Hershbain said.
The game remained tied through regulation and 20 minutes of extra time. Martin had three saves and Kristen Francis, junior Union goal keeper, had eight.
Friday’s tie improves the Lady Bulldogs’ record to 0-2-1, while the Pioneers fall to 2-1-1.
“This year, I think our main goal, first and foremost, is to make the conference tournament,” Hershbain said. “I think our team is finally starting to work as a unit, and I’m just looking forward to seeing what we can do the rest of the season.”
The following evening, the Union men’s soccer team had a near track meet against the Oakland City Mighty Oaks, with constant sprints and booming kicks.
Jack Cookson, Oakland City sophomore midfielder/forward, scored the first goal of the game in the 19th minute of play. Union goal keeper Pedro Haniel, freshman, dove right to save the shot but missed. Haniel was playing his second game of the season, and had four saves on the night.
The Bulldogs responded to Cookson’s goal with a goal of their own in the 27th minute to even the score at one goal apiece. Forward Paul Langford, senior, took a shot on goal that was batted off by Oakland City goal keeper Connor McGoldrick, senior, but Bulldog midfielder Kyle Yeoman, junior, scored off the deflection and feel over due to his momentum. Yeoman leapt to his feet and was met by his teammates, who showered him with cheers and slaps on the back.
The team found success in “coming together,” Yeoman said. “If we work hard, effort always trumps everything else.”
That “everything else” in this game was physical intensity, as each team committed over 15 fouls. The athletic trainers made multiple field appearances, but no player was critically injured.
In the 71st minute, a fight broke out on the field. Yeoman and Union’s Cole Asfour, freshman midfielder/forward, were each in pain on the ground. After the referee blew his whistle and Andre Silva, sophomore, cleared his team from the Mighty Oaks, two yellow cards were given to members of the Oakland City team.
In the game, which went into extra time tied 1-1, nine yellow cards were given, which is more than in Union’s first three games combined. In the 98th minute of play, Oakland City midfielder Jacob Fremmer, senior, received his second yellow of the game, an automatic red card. This penalty and ejection opened the door for Union to put together a second goal because Oakland City had to finish the game a man down.
In the 104th minute of play, Asfour launched one into the top half of the net from outside the goal box, and his teammates rushed onto the field, clearing the bench to celebrate.
“It was really emotional because a lot of people were going down, but getting back up and fighting,” Asfour said. “It really meant a lot to me to come through for the team, because they’ve been pushing me.”
The Bulldogs waved to a standing ovation following the game, and Asfour made a heart with his hands.
“The heart was directed toward my parents who flew up from Texas for the first time to watch me play,” Asfour said. “The feeling was really special, knowing, after the hard-fought game, they stayed to support us in overtime.”
While Oakland City drops to 0-2, this double overtime win improves Union’s record to 1-3. Yeoman says fans can expect more wins.
“We have a lot of talent,” Yeoman said. “We’re going for the conference championship this year.”
The volleyball tournament, the Southwest Baptist University Classic, was held Friday and Saturday. Union played in two games each day.
In Game 1, Head Coach Darrin McClure’s team faced the Aggies of Oklahoma Panhandle State (0-4). The Lady Bulldogs dropped the first set 20-25 to the Aggies. This was an anomaly, as they were able to win the next three sets 25-13, 25-17, and 25-20.
Union combined for 10 blocks as opposed to the Aggies’ five, and Hannah Huguley, senior, had an incredible game with 20 assists, 16 digs, and 12 kills.
“It was one of those days you wait for; when something just clicks on the court,” Huguley said. “Everyone was playing for each other and working so hard. It was amazing to be a part of and it makes me excited for the rest of the season.”
The team’s other Game 1 statistic leaders were Alecia Funk, freshman, with 25 assists, Abbie Rahn, freshman, with 14 kills, and McKenna Carter, senior, with five blocks.
“It’s always good to win,” McClure said. “What I’m most proud of is how [our] team has gotten better.”
The success the Lady Bulldogs found in Game 1 continued into Game 2, where they faced the host Bearcats of Southwest Baptist. Union swept the match, winning 25-22, 25-18, and 25-15.
In this game, Huguley had 19 assists and Funk had 17, which helped Katie O’Malley, freshman, to lead the way with nine kills. Another freshman, Taylor Chiaro led with 12 digs, while junior Suheily Colon-Rodriguez had the team’s only three blocks.
The second day of play in Bolivar, Missouri was less favorable for Union, as the team was swept in six straight sets to Harding University and the University of Illinois – Springfield.
In these two matches, Union scored an average of 16.833 points per set.
“Despite the fact we have a long way to go,” Coach McClure said, “I like the direction we are headed.”
After this weekend’s games, the volleyball team has a record of 3-5.
Looking ahead, on Tuesday, Sep. 13, at 7 p.m., men’s soccer will host Kentucky Wesleyan. Volleyball will host Christian Brothers University on Thursday, Sep. 15, at 7 p.m., as well as Mississippi College On Friday, Sep. 16, at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, men’s and women’s soccer as well as men’s and women’s cross country will all be on the road.