Women’s soccer hopes for a Southland Conference regular season championship came to a close Wednesday afternoon with a 2-0 loss to conference leader Stephen F. Austin. The Wildcats move to 6-2-2 and are third in conference, while the win puts the Ladyjacks in prime positioning for their fifth straight conference championship.
“We didn’t execute during the game like we had been throughout the course of this year,” head coach Casey Wilson said. “They put more pressure on us than probably any other team in the conference which caused us to panic and to lose our confidence and composure at times.”
ACU would have needed to win out the remainder of their schedule for a shot at the championship. At the same time, SFA would have had to lose out against ACU and Sam Houston State, while Houston Baptist, who sits at second in the conference, would have had to gone winless in their final two games of the season against Lamar and Texas A&M- Corpus Christi.
Stephen F. Austin recorded its fourth straight shutout, as they have yet to allow a goal in four games and just two goals over six games. The Ladyjacks took the lead in the 12th minute when freshman Breanna Moore found the upper left corner for her fourth goal in as many games. Moore found the ball on a well placed pass in front of the box.
The Wildcats came out of halftime in need of a score. Junior Maria Gomez found freshman Dylan Owens, but couldn’t cap off with a goal for the equalizer. SFA pushed the lead to two goals in the 64th minute off a free kick that got past Wildcat goalkeeper Sydney Newton.
“We had our opportunities to score,” Wilson said. “We out shot them, but they just made their goals count. Both their goals were no doubters and that’s what we need to work on: being able to put the ball in the frame on a direct goal like that.”
Stephen F. Austin’s size and physicality bothered ACU for much of the match. Along with the suffocating defense, the Wildcats had a difficult time getting anything going on offense. The Wildcats were on the attack for most of the first half, but struggled with taking advantage of opportunities. Owens was active early on, along with freshman Sophie Standifer.
Junior Kelsie Roberts was excellent for ACU early on, breaking up several SFA offensive attacks and anchoring the Wildcat defense that played without sophomore defender Chantal Kinsey due to injury.
Statistically, both sides were held evenly for the most part. ACU put up more shots than SFA (10-8) and more shots on goal (5-4). Newton finished the game with two saves and SFA netminders Lillie Ehlert and Allyson Smith combined for the shutout with five saves.
“Even though it was a big game, we all play and prepare the same way every game,” Owens said. “The game didn’t go how we wanted, but that doesn’t change what we’ve done this year. To have a shot at a conference championship in my first year here is incredible and should have everyone excited about what’s to come.”
The game was a makeup, after the Wildcats game against SFA was originally rescheduled after torrential rain forced the game to be moved to Wednesday. The Wildcats dropped the first game of their season ending three-game home stand against SHSU in a 2-2 draw. After the loss to SFA, the Wildcats will look to finish off a successful year with a win against Incarnate Word on Friday at 7 p.m.