The soccer team concluded its season with a win against Incarnate Word Friday, which locked a third place in the Southland Conference.
The women finished third last season as well, and have posted a winning conference record in each of the last four seasons.
“My final season was nothing short of amazing,” said senior forward Natalie Throneberry. “Our team was something special this year. The atmosphere we created within the team and program was something we’ve never had before, and I think that’s why we had one of our best years yet.”
The team began its regular season with eight non-conference games and struggled in most of them. They went a combined 1-6-1 while scoring ten total goals through the eight games.
The Wildcat’s first win came against Prairie View A&M, a dominant 5-0 performance in which Throneberry scored two goals in the game. Their tie was in the second game of the season against UTEP, as the teams battled to a scoreless draw after overtime.
Conference play began against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, which the ACU won by a score of 4-0.
The women would then put together a three-game winning streak after beating Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana before going on a tough weekend road trip.
The Wildcats had to travel to Louisiana on Sept. 30 to face Northwestern State, where they lost 2-1, and then had to go to Arkansas on Oct. 2, which ended in another 0-0 tie against Central Arkansas.
First place was still not out of reach, however, as the women went on another three-game winning streak against Houston Baptist, Lamar and McNeese State. This put them in third, ahead of a tough game against second place Stephen F. Austin, which aired on ESPN 3.
After 71 minutes of play the teams were neck and neck at a 2-2 score with goals from Throneberry and freshman defender Shay Johnson.
However, SFA would score a late tiebreaker goal at the 82nd minute to win the game 3-2.
The Wildcats slipped down to fourth place with two conference games left in the season, but finished off the weekend with a 2-0 win against Sam Houston State.
Heading into their final match against Incarnate Word Friday, the women had a chance to finish second with a win and losses by Northwestern State and SFA.
They took the third place finish though, as they beat Incarnate Word 2-1, and Northwestern lost to conference champions Central Arkansas.
“One key moment I remember and will carry out through the rest of my time at ACU is even when we are behind in a game, we strive to get back into the game using every chance we can get,” said freshman forward Samantha Vestal. “We worked until the last seconds of the game to come out on top.”
Statistically, Johnson led the team in goals with five, despite having to miss part of the season with an ankle injury. For her performance, Johnson earned Southland Conference Freshman of the Year honors.
“My first season of collegiate soccer went so far beyond my expectations, and this team was the reason for it,” said Johnson. “This group was the closest team I’ve ever been a part of, and that chemistry really helped us on the field this season too.”
Junior midfielder Chloe Fifer had an impressive season in the assists column as she led the team with eight, and also led in the Southland Conference for part of the season.
Seniors Throneberry and Kelsie Roberts were productive in their final seasons, as Throneberry posted four goals and five assists while Roberts, who had not scored in her other three seasons, put up four goals along with an assist. Roberts was also selected as the Southland’s Defender of the Year.
Senior goalkeeper Sydney Newton closed her final season with a 7-5-2 record and posted 75 saves with six shoutouts.
Other Wildcats recognized were Fifer, who earned second team all-Conference honors, and Throneberry and Newton as honorable mention all-Conference selections.
ACU improved its 2015 conference record of 7-2-2 to a 2016 conference record of 8-2-1, along with earning its first winning overall soccer record since moving to Div. 1 at 9-8-2.