No. 15 Benedictine notched a much needed gritty 2-1 win over a Missouri Valley club who is right behind them in the Heart of America Conference standings Saturday night at Legacy Field.
Perhaps nobody embodied that Raven (12-4, 6-3) toughness on the night more than senior forward Nicole Kelly.
Kelly suffered an ankle injury in Benedictine’s previous loss to MidAmerica and missed a majority of the game before returning to start against the Vikings (9-5-2, 4-4-1).
The senior battled through despite clearly not being one hundred percent and even scored the Ravens’ first goal of the game off an assist from senior forward Emily Ambuul in the thirty first minute.
“She’s a warrior,” Coach Lincoln Roblee said. “It would have been easy for her to say ‘I’m just not going to do it’ but we need her out there and she’s willing to sacrifice for the team.”
Kelly said she needed to prepare herself mentally before the game to not worry or think about her ankle injury.
“A lot of soccer is mental even when you’re not hurt,” Kelly said. “I just knew that I needed to come into this game and tell myself I’d be OK and to not think the worst.”
The senior captain said the win was significant in terms of getting some confidence back with the team.
“This means everything coming off of two losses,” Kelly said. “Any type of win is a confidence boost for us and we needed it.”
The lone second half goal that gave Benedictine the win was scored by Ambuul off a cross from senior forward Sydney Routh in fifty ninth minute.
Roblee said his team responded well to the challenge of playing a tough Missouri Valley squad.
“We knew we were going to have a great challenge today,” Roblee said. “The team showed a lot of great character and played really well.”
He also gave credit his team’s defense and the goal keepers on the team, junior Ashley Rehagen and sophomore Olivia Berry.
“I thought we had great defensive effort and both goal keepers came up big,” Roblee said. “Tremendous effort from front to back.”
The Ravens will next host Culver-Stockton College Saturday on senior night with game time set for 5 p.m.