CHICAGO – Paced by goals from freshman forward Morgan Graves (Joliet, Ill./Joliet West) and sophomore midfielder Molly Sheehan (Orland Park, Ill./Stagg), the Saint Xavier University women's soccer team got its conference slate off to a great start with a 2-1 victory over rival University of St. Francis (Ill.) Wednesday night at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. The Cougars held a 2-0 advantage early in the second half, but a goal by the Saints in the 58thminute cut the lead in half and made for an exciting finish. SXU senior keeper Ashley Shugar (Lake Orion, Mich./Western Illinois University/Lake Orion) finished the game with eight saves, including a key one on a penalty kick attempt by USF with less than eight minutes to play in regulation. The Cougars have played well in the month of September winning five of their six games over the stretch.
Graves put Saint Xavier up 1-0 when she scored on a break-away set up by a nice assist from junior forward Elysha Peele (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) in the game's 30thminute. It was one of just two shots on goal that the Cougars would record in first-half action. Leading 1-0 at the half, SXU would cushion its lead with Sheehan's goal in the 55thminute when she scored on a header set up on another pass by Peele. However, St. Francis would answer just three minutes later when sophomore forward Brooke Polus connected on a shot right in front of the net off an assist by senior forward Erin Voss. The Saints would have their opportunities to tie the game in the final 30 minutes with four corner kicks and three shots on goal, but Shugar and the Cougar defense would hold firm to secure the victory. SXU finished with nine total shots, including five on goal attempts. USF had 15 shots with nine on goal.
Saint Xavier (5-4-0 overall/1-0-0 CCAC) heads to Indiana on Tuesday, September 27, to take on conference foe Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.). The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. (central) start.