The Wildcats faced difficult competition this past week in a 1-1 draw against Southern Utah on Friday and a 2-1 loss to Utah Tech on Sunday.
Utah Tech, formerly known as Dixie State, changed their name prior to the upcoming season. Southern Utah joined the Western Athletic Conference over the summer.
Friday night, the Wildcats met Southern Utah, which resulted in a tie, 1-1.
“We really felt Friday night’s performance was great,” head coach Casey Wilson said. “We played really well, probably one of the best games we’ve played all season in the first nine minutes.”
The game kicked off with fierce competition from the start. This was the second conference game for ACU, with the first ending in a tie, ACU was looking to gain its first win.
In the 23rd minute, the Thunderbirds got on the board early when Whitney Wangsgard was able to slip the ball past Lily Foster, red-shirt sophomore goalkeeper from Coeur’d Alene, Idaho, to secure the goal.
Trailing behind at the half, the Wildcats knew they had to get their offense to start clicking together. 10 minutes into the second half, Brennan Reuland, senior midfielder from Arlington, carried the ball down the middle of the field. As she got closer to the goal, she was able to send the ball to Jordan Michie, senior forward from Arlington, who slotted the ball into the goal, putting the Wildcats on the board, 1-1.
“Jordan has been great,” Wilson said. “She’s played a lot of minutes this year and also stepping up and scoring these last couple of games has been great. The worth ethic and the energy she puts in every game really makes her a threat.”
The game stayed tied for the rest of the second half, with neither team being able to score off of the other. With the new conference change on scoring with ties, the score stayed at 1-1, marking ACU’s second tie.
The Wildcats’ offense was strong on the night. Natalie Jones, senior midfielder from Lubbock, recorded a career-high nine shot attempts and out of those, secured five shots on frame for another career-best. With the goal tonight, Michie recorded her third goal of the season, marking a season-high in her career.
On Sunday afternoon, the Wildcats hosted Utah Tech, where they marked the loss, 1-2.
“Sunday I thought we played well,” Wilson said. “Minus maybe the first ten minutes as we got into the game and ironed things out. We had plenty of opportunities, we hit the crossbar and had some quality shots. But it became a game of inches and we came on the bottom half of that.”
15 minutes into the game, the Trailblazers went to gain the goal but were blocked by the Wildcats, yet after a back and forth match, Utah Tech was able to slip the ball into the goal for a 1-0 game.
After a scoreless first half for the Wildcats, in the 55th minute, Michie came once again down the field and knocked the ball in the top corner of the goal to tie the game, 1-1.
With the Wildcats tieing up the game, it was an even playing field until Utah Tech’s Abigail Allard was able to sink the ball in the net after a deflection from a corner kick to give the Trailblazers the game-winning goal, 2-1.
This was an intense game for both teams, resulting in a combined total of 17 fouls. With the goal, Michie has now had a goal in four out of the past five games, including three games in a row.
“We’ve been around the goal and we need to finish them,” Wilson said. “We’re on the road and going to play some really tough teams. We have to just play our game and execute our chances, it’s pretty much that simple.”
The Wildcats hit the road to take on Sam Houston Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Huntsville, streaming on ESPN+. After Friday, ACU takes on New Mexico State Sunday at 2 p.m. in Las Cruces, New Mexico, streaming on WAC International.