The Wildcat soccer team suffered their first taste of defeat at the hands of No. 2 seed Midwestern State 2-1 at the Wildcat Soccer Pitch Sunday in the Lone Star Conference Tournament’s championship game. The No. 2 Wildcats had not been defeated for 19 games this season.
Midwestern State overcame an early 1-0 deficit by scoring two goals in a three-minute period to claim the 2011 Lone Star Conference Championship crown.
“It’s tough to swallow when they have five losses and we have one, and they’re the conference champion,” said head coach Casey Wilson. “But they won it when they counted, and they deserve credit for that. They are a very talented team overall and their coaches are top notch.”
Kelsey Hill, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, headed in Heidi Avila’s cross for the game-tying score in the 76th minute, and then a fresh-legged Mickey Brown sealed the deal, putting in the game-winning goal in the 79th minute.
The Mustangs withstood a persistent Wildcat attack the final 11 minutes to hold on for the win.
The Wildcats have prided themselves on creating opportunities to score this season, and Sunday the team had opportunities but came up short.
Junior forward Krysta Grimm booted a penalty kick wide left in the 81st minute, and LSC Offensive Player of the Year Andrea Carpenter and Ashley Craig had shots either blocked or saved.
“I can’t complain about the way we played today, we just didn’t put in all of our chances earlier,” Carpenter said. “Because of that, we kept them thinking that they were still in the game.”
Senior midfielder Ashley Holton fired one last corner kick with 15 seconds left in the game, but the Mustangs cleared it out.
“We gave ourselves chances to score until the very end, so we can’t be faulted for that,” Wilson said. “Our girls played their hearts out and gave every ounce of effort they had. You simply can’t win them all.”
The Wildcats outshot the Mustangs 9-6 in a first half that resulted in a zero scoring, and both teams came out intent to score in the second half.
The Mustangs’ Alyssa Cooper fired the first shot of the half, which was saved by LSC Goalkeeper of the Year Elliott London. Junior defender Lexi Stirling booted a corner kick, which led to consecutive shots by Grimm. The first was blocked and the second was saved by MSU goalie Mallory Whitworth.
Immediately afterward MSU’s Lindsay Pritchard had a shot stopped by London, and then Avila lofted a ball that landed behind London before bouncing over the net.
After the lucky break, Carpenter and Grimm took advantage of the fast break opportunity. Grimm dribbled the ball up the field and passed the ball to Carpenter, who finished off the attack by scoring her 15th goal of the year.
“Krysta played me a beautiful ball over the top of the defense and into a great space,” Carpenter said. “The goalkeeper came out and I placed it underneath her before she slid out. I give Krysta all the credit because without that perfect ball, there wouldn’t have been a goal or chance to score at all.”
Sophomore midfielder Ashley Craig came close to making it a 2-0 game following Carpenter’s goal, but Whitworth caught her cross in the air. Carpenter then struck the near post in the 55th minute.
The Mustangs improved their record to 13-5-2 and became the first team in over a year to beat the Wildcats. ACU’s program-record winning and unbeaten streaks were snapped at 14 and 24.
Junior midfielder Julie Coppedge, sophomore midfielder Jacey Ferrera, and Carpenter were named to the conference’s all-tournament team.
“Losing today wasn’t what we wanted, but at least today wasn’t our last game,” Carpenter said. “We’re going to put this behind us, work hard this week and come out ready to play next weekend. We aren’t finished with this season.”