After a grueling non-conference schedule, the women’s soccer team returns home to begin Southland Conference competition against Texas A&M- Corpus Christi. The game is slated for Friday night at 7 p.m. at Elmer Gray Stadium.
“It is always good to have conference games at home especially the opening game,” head coach Casey Wilson said. “Hopefully it will give us some momentum to get off to a good start.”
The Wildcats enter the game at 1-6-1 after going up against some of the best the state has to offer. Over the past month, ACU has faced Baylor, Texas Christian University, Texas A&M and Texas, as well as one nationally ranked opponent, Arizona. The Wildcats also faced several well established Div. I programs like the University of Texas- El Paso, University of Texas- San Antonio and the University of California- Irvine.
The Islanders of Corpus Christi were predicted to finish in the eighth or ninth spots in the Southland Conference this year, as opposed to ACU’s fifth place prediction in the preseason polls. The Islanders finished 3-7-1 in conference play last season, while ACU went 5-4-2.
“There is a lot of parody in the Southland and the team ready to play and who can execute their game plan better has a good chance in every game,” Wilson said. “Corpus is a good team and we expect this to be a good game.”
In the team’s last meeting, the Islanders bested the Wildcats in a close 2-1 game on the Texas coast. ACU struck early with a goal in the sixth minute, but gave up two unanswered TAMCC goals in the 30th and 58th minutes.
The Wildcats had a strong showing in their last game, falling in a tight 2-1 match against the Longhorns last weekend. Junior goalkeeper Sydney Newton recorded 11 saves in a shortened afternoon, as she was forced to leave the game early with a head injury. With senior starting goal keeper Kelsey Dombrowski out with injury, Newton is still expected to start in the box for ACU Friday.
“Kelsey (Dombrowski) has still been out at the start of this week of practice, but Sydney is fine,” Wilson said. “But, those decisions are day to day, we evaluate all our players before matches.”
The Wildcats will also be without sophomore Baylee Mitchell for the rest of the season. Mitchell tore her ACL, MCL and meniscus and will be sidelined for the rest of year. As a freshman, Mitchell led ACU in scoring and was in the top ten in the conference.
“Baylee has been a productive player for us so it’s hard to see her go down,” Wilson said. “But, at the same time, we have plenty of other capable offensive threats right now. Simply, we need to execute and finish our chances.”