Northwestern State aims for fifth win in a row when it plays Lamar

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Acelya Aydogmus has two shutouts this season, including in the conference opener at Stephen F. Austin CREDIT: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

The red-hot Northwestern State soccer team rides into its first home conference match of the season against the Lamar Cardinals Friday at 7 p.m.

SAAC will be collecting donations for the Lamar Flood relief fund at the game due to the flooding in Beaumont, Texas, last week.

Admission to the game is free thanks to the sponsorship of the Louisiana Army National Guard.

NSU (4-5, 1-0) is on a four-match winning streak, including beating rival Stephen F. Austin on the road last Friday to open conference play. It was the first victory over the Ladyjacks since 2002 and the first time starting conference play with a victory since 2008.

Lamar (4-5, 1-0) began the season with just one win in its first six games, but like Northwestern State, the Cardinals have turned it on recently. They have won their last three contests, scoring 13 goals in the process. That includes a 6-0 drubbing of Nicholls in the Southland Conference opener.

The Cardinals won 1-0 in the 2018 meeting, despite the Lady Demons taking 22 shots, including 11 on goal.

“Lamar and McNeese are exciting teams to go up against this weekend,” co-head coach Jess Jobe said. “They were tough results for us on the road, and I think the returners on our team remember those results. We want to put together a good performance and get a little bit of redemption.

“We’re excited to host them on our field and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to again measure where we are in this conference.”

Freshman Sam Hanking scored the lone goal of the victory at Stephen F. Austin, knocking home a shot from in the box early in the second half.

Freshmen have accounted for six of the eight goals scored by the Lady Demons so far in 2019, led by Olivia Draguicevich’s four. Hallie Field and sophomores Jalen Donaldson and Kiara Padilla have the other goals for the Lady Demons. For NSU, it has received contributions from many different players, as 10 players have scored points, but only Draguicevich (8) has more than two points.

The Lady Demons have out-shot their last seven opponents, including winning in that category 10-3 in the conference opener at SFA.

The defense has been the calling card for NSU so far this season, having allowed 17 goals on the year, but just six combined in the last seven games. Opponents have just registered 23 shots in the last five contests.

At goalkeeper, sophomore Acelya Aydogmus made the start at SFA, earning her second shutout of the season in the 1-0 win. In her last three contests, she’s allowed just one goal in 225 minutes.

Senior Kayla Bomben recorded the first shutout this season, a 1-0 win at Jackson State Sept. 8. In more than 260 minutes, she has allowed just three goals and has a 75 percent save percentage. Bomben also a terrific goals against average of 1.03 so far.

“Coach Anna (Jobe) has been wanting me to be more aggressive to come out of my box and come out on crosses,” Aydogmus said. “I made it a key point and key focus against SFA to eliminate all the shots I can.”

Lamar is led by the arguably the top offensive player in the conference, Lucy Ashworth. She is the reigning Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week after scoring four goals and dishing out two assists in the dominating performance against Nicholls.

She has scored at least one goal in four consecutive contests, and has nine on the season, as well as two assists. She leads the conference in most offensive categories, and her 20 total points is seven more than any other player in the Southland.

“I don’t think we really need to change anything on offense to slow them down because what we’ve been doing has been working,” defender Nicole Henry said. “We’re on a four-match winning streak right now, so I think we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

At goalkeeper, the Cardinals have played two, but Sandra Nygard is the main one. She has played more than 600 minutes and has 41 saves. She has saved 11 out of 12 shots during their three-match winning streak.

The Lady Demons finish the home weekend with a date with in-state rival McNeese Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.