The Northwestern State soccer team aims to build confidence as the Lady Demons travel to Monroe to play the Warhawks Friday at 7 at Brown Stadium.
NSU (0-4) has entered halftime tied in each of its two matches against Grambling and Louisiana Tech, but dropped both contests, as the Lady Demons could not find the back of the net, despite outshooting its competition in both games.
ULM (1-2-1) already as more victories than it had all 2018 when it won on Sunday against Southern Miss 1-0. This is the third of a three-match homestand for the Warhawks, having lost to Louisiana Tech before winning its first contest since Oct. 15, 2017.
In last year’s meeting, Northwestern State received a hat trick from Brittany Caserma to help defeat UL Monroe 5-2 in Natchitoches. On two of Caserma’s goals, Jalen Donaldson had the assist.
NSU has won two in a row against the Warhawks, with the last ULM victory coming in 2015.
“We’ve yet to put together a 90-minute performance, and that’s what we’re looking for,” co-head coach Jess Jobe said. “That’s going to require a little bit sharper focus, and as substitutions are made, the performance remains consistent.
“We need everyone to be committed to their job within their position. If we can put those things together consistently for a full 90 minutes, we’ll see good results.”
Sophomore forward Jalen Donaldson scored her first goal against Louisiana Tech, off a rebound of a shot by fellow forward, freshman Jayme Haynes. The freshman was credited with the assist, which marked her first point of her young career.
Haynes knows the forward group will be even more potent one once they start clicking.
“We’re (forwards Jalen Donaldson and Olivia Draguicevich) learning each other’s tendencies,” Haynes said. “Since we’re all still pretty new to each other, it’s just building chemistry. It will only take a few more games before we click, and then we’ll be very dangerous as a group.”
Draguicevich has been a player the Lady Demons have made an effort to get the ball to in scoring range. She has one of the three goals on the season, and she is tied (with fellow freshman Rachel Brandt) for the most shots (6), and has the most on goal (5) so far this year.
NSU has outshot its competition the last two matches, and is looking to capitalize on chances around the net. One of those players is senior Jayden Wheeler.
Wheeler has been on two teams that have made the conference tournament, including a won seven contests in conference play, but she thinks this one is the best team she’s played on during her time at NSU.
“Whatever ‘it’ is, we have it,” Wheeler said. “I truly believe that. I think this is the best team I’ve been a part of at Northwestern State. It’s just being able to put the win on the board.
“We have the players and the talent. It’s just about putting the pieces together. It’s going to take time, but I truly believe the team has what it takes to reach the goal of being Southland champs.”
Outside of coming out of this weekend with a pair of wins, Jobe wants to continue to see players improve.
“We want to see progression this weekend,” Jobe said. “That’s important to our coaching staff and to the players to continue to see improvement and continue to strive together to see the improvement.
“We’ll need to dig in and focus on those areas that we may want to be a little stronger and also build on those things that make us dangerous playing forward and organized defensively.”
Northwestern State travels to Jackson, Miss., Sunday to play Jackson State to conclude its road non-conference portion of the schedule. The last two non-conference matches are at home, beginning Sept. 13 with a visit from Texas State.