The Wildcats brought the energy back to Abilene on Senior Day by gaining their first win at home against Grambling, 2-1.
ACU has had a rough start to its season so far, obtaining only one win out of its five pre-conference games. This win will bring them to a record of 2-4 as they head into conference play.
“We passed the ball a lot today,” head coach Casey Wilson said. “They gave us about 60 percent of the field for most of the game. Later on, we switched things up a little bit and were able to get some more opportunities, especially in the last 25 minutes.”
Thirteen minutes into the game, ACU’s scoring chances were looking high after Brianna Diaz, a redshirt junior from Anaheim, California, took a shot that was saved by Grambling’s goalkeeper, putting pressure on the Tigers.
After several fouls on both teams, Grambling started taking control within the last five minutes of the first period. The Tigers put two shots on goal within 10 seconds of each other, but Lily Foster, a sophomore goalkeeper from Coeur d Alene, Idaho, blocked their attempts. The game was left tied scoreless going into the half.
Feeling the pressure of a scoreless first period, the Wildcats and Tigers stepped up the competition going into the second period.
“We had some pretty good touches on the ball,” Natalie Wodka, a senior defender from Allen, said. “Especially being able to spread it out wide. Our defense held it together, and Lily has been killing it the whole season.”
Grambling goalkeeper Quinlan Warren, a sophomore from Middleton, Wisconson, who only had to make two saves in the first period, felt the pressure of the Wildcats from the start of the second period.
Five minutes into the second period, Wodka attacked the goal with hopes to put ACU on the board but was unsuccessful.
A minute later, the Tigers slipped the ball past Foster, taking the lead, 1-0.
Though Grambling dominated the first half of the second period, ACU took control by the 63rd minute. The Wildcats took three shots in 10 minutes, causing Grambling to be unsteady.
In minute 73, Wodka lined up for a free kick, sending it into the box. The ball bounced over the goalkeeper’s head into the goal, putting the Wildcats on the board for a tied score, 1-1.
“Wodka is definitely a physical presence in the middle,” said Wilson. “She creates a lot of stuff. She has a big leg and is a very smart player.”
Over the next four minutes, ACU secured the opportunity with four shot attempts but was unsuccessful to sink it in the net.
With eight minutes left the game, Alyssia Anuat, a senior defender from San Diego, California, crossed the ball to Caylen Wright, a junior forward from Joshua, on the right side, where Wright picked the ball off of the bounce, sinking it in the net for a game-winning shot.
Wilson is grateful that they were able to gain a win for the seniors on their special day.
“It has been a great senior class,” said Wilson. “We are proud of what they have done and what they are going to do.”
The Wildcats play a doubleheader this weekend against Lamar Friday at 7 p.m. and the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley Sunday at 1 p.m. in Elmer Gray Stadium, streaming on ESPN+.