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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Rivalry games are always exciting - rivalry games with major postseason implications serve to heighten the tension even more. In front of the largest home crowd in more than five years, SIUE women's soccer firmly positioned themselves for strong postseason seeding with a 3-1 victory over Southeast Missouri on Thursday night.

The Cougars started off the scoring in the sixth minute, as Maria Haro took a picture-perfect pass from MacKenzie Litzsinger to net her fifth of the season and give the home side a 1-0 lead. SIUE would hold that lead until the 16th minute, when a SEMO forward slotted the ball past Jensen Schoch to level the score. The first half looked destined to end with a 1-1 draw, but true freshman Kaitlyn Nichols notched her third goal of the season with just seven seconds left in the half and give the Cougars a 2-1 advantage heading into the break. The Cougars and Redhawks would exchange possession for much of the second half, but Kayla Klipsch netted the insurance goal in the 84th minute to secure the SIUE victory.

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"I'm extremely proud of the result tonight," said SIUE Head Coach Derek Burton following the match. "We knew it was going to be a good battle - it always is with SEMO, we've become rivals. We both have a lot to play for as you would expect of the last couple games of the conference season. We knew it was going to be tough and I'm extremely proud to come out on top."

Taylor Dolt dished a career-high two assists in the contest, while a trio of Cougars put a team-best three shots on goal in the contest - Haro, Andrea Frerker, and Lily Schnieders. Schoch stood between the sticks for the full 90 minutes, recording a save and helping the SIUE defense allow just five total shots.

The Cougars, who improve to 8-6 overall and 5-2 in OVC play, will close out the regular season with a pivotal road fixture at Belmont. SIUE and the Bruins are two of three teams tied atop the league table following Belmont's 1-0 win at UT Martin. First kick in Nashville is scheduled for 2 p.m., and the match will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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