Northwestern State aims for bounce back against Grambling

Sophomore Kiara Padilla scored the first goal of the season for the Lady Demons in the 4-2 loss against Baylor CREDIT: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

After going scoreless for 173 minutes in the opening weekend at North Texas and Baylor, Northwestern State scored two in less than 30 seconds, and aim to keep that going Friday as it travels to Grambling to battle the Tigers at 5:30.

The contest concludes a three-match road trip to begin the regular season.

NSU (0-2) is coming off a loss to Baylor this past Sunday 4-2, but received a late boost from sophomore Kiara Padilla and freshman Olivia Draguicevich to cut it to a two-goal deficit and give the Lady Demons confidence as they head into a weekend in which it plays two in-state opponents.

For Draguicevich, it was her first official goal as a member of Northwestern State, while Padilla hit the back of the net for the first time since last year against Southern.

“We’re learning and trying to get better every day,” Jobe said. “We’re right where we expected to be with a lot of freshmen needing to get key experience.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult weekend. We set up those opponents to learn more about our weaknesses and areas we really need to improve in and also open our eyes to what areas we’re really strong in. There are a lot of positives to take away, even in an 0-2 weekend.”

One of the freshmen who has come in played well is freshman Olivia Mattsson, who played professionally in Finland before coming to Natchitoches.

“Olivia has done really well to control the tempo in the midfield,” Jobe said. “She plays with her head up, is really confident on the ball and she works extremely hard. There are a ton of intangibles she brings to us at the midfield.”

A bright spot defensively has been the play of defender Natalee Henry. She went toe-to-toe with one of the fastest players for Baylor, Reagan Padgett, and held her own. Henry played well in the loss to North Texas, so she earned her second career start against the Bears.

Natalee Henry started along side her twin sister, Nicole, who also is a defender for the Lady Demons. It is a nice experience for Natalee to play on the field with Nicole.

“It’s really fun because I feel like we have a lot of chemistry with each other since we’ve played with each other our entire lives, so we know our strengths and weaknesses,” Natalee Henry said.

Grambling (2-1) comes in following wins at LSU-Shreveport and at home against UL Monroe before falling late at Little Rock. Against the Warhawks, Grambling’s Kailey Pena scored a goal with less than a minute and a half left in regulation to eke out the victory.

After allowing 15 goals in its first five games in 2018, Grambling has only surrendered three in three matches so far in 2019.

The Lady Demons are 5-1 against Grambling, but the teams have not met since a 4-0 Lady Demons victory in 2012. The lone Tigers win came in 2009 when Grambling took home a 2-1 victory at the Lamar Cardinal Classic.

Following Friday’s contest at Grambling, the Lady Demons return to Natchitoches for the first regular season home match of the season against Louisiana Tech. Admission will be free for all fans who come to the game thanks to the sponsorship of the Louisiana Army National Guard.