After a 2-1 comeback victory over Texas Woman’s Friday and a 2-0 win over Texas A&M-Commerce Sunday, the No. 2 ACU Wildcats clinched the Lone Star Conference’s No. 1 seed and will host the conference’s postseason tournament at the Wildcat Soccer Pitch for the first time on Nov. 3-6 .
“This is a very exciting time for us as a program,” said head coach Casey Wilson. “It’s also somewhat uncharted waters for the team. We did not get to host the tournament last year, so that will be a new, rewarding experience for us.”
The pair of victories lifted the team’s record to 15-0-1, a mere two wins shy of last season’s record-breaking total with two conference games, a conference tournament and, potentially, a national tournament to play in.
“Where we are now is a testament to our program as a whole and how far it has come,” said sophomore forward Andrea Carpenter. “A dedicated, knowledgeable coaching staff willing to teach and invested players striving constantly for their best and never settling are the reasons why we’re here now.”
The Wildcats used a scoreless first half to fuel their second half offensive output Sunday. Carpenter scored her twelfth goal of the season in the 55th minute off an assist from junior midfielder Julie Coppedge.
“My goal came off a great pass from Julie. I had lots of room behind me so I turned the defender and then it was a one on one with the goalie,” Carpenter said. “I placed it in the corner and it went in.”
Junior forward Krysta Grimm made it a 2-0 game in the 70th minute when she booted in a penalty kick.
The shutout marked ACU’s ninth of the year with goalkeepers Elliott London and Arielle Moncure combining for ten saves in the effort.
“Our defense has been tough all year,”Â Wilson said. “All four of the defenders on the field have played really well and read the game on a very high level. They take care of business back there.”
The team went on to score two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to trump Texas Woman’s 2-1 in a LSC match in Denton on Friday.
The Pioneers took a 1-0 lead in the first half following a Candice Davies goal at the 38:51 mark off an assist from Brittany Martin.
In much of the first and second half, the Wildcats’ shots simply were not falling. ACU fired 23 shots, including 12 on goal at goalkeeper Beatrice Soto.
“We had ample amounts of opportunities to make something happen, but we simply didn’t for a variety of reasons,” Wilson said. “Their goalkeeper made a number of nice saves, but for the most part, it was on us.”
Sophomore Ashley Craig found Stephanie Heron in the 86th minute, and Heron, a junior transfer, put the ball past Soto to tie the game.
Scoring again and putting away the game didn’t take long either for the Wildcats. Sophomore Whitely Lindholm scored the game-winner at the 89:09 mark off a pass from Craig once again.
The ACU defense held the remaining 51 seconds, making the Wildcats’ 2-1 comeback victory concrete.
“Whether we went into overtime or won, I knew [scoring] would help our confidence,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the team is now watching the goals set at beginning of the season unfold into reality.
“Winning conference and hosting the LSC Tournament are both goals we set out to obtain at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Our record shows what our girls have put in, how hard they have worked and the investment they’ve put into each game.”