By Bud Denega, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
NATCHITOCHES — The Northwestern State soccer team had multiple reasons to believe Sunday at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex was perhaps not its day.
NSU failed to score in the opening half when a stiff breeze of 15 MPH was at its back. The Lady Demons had to play the final 13 minutes and overtime a player down because of a second yellow card.
But amid all those obstacles, NSU found a way to win. Sophomore Hallie Field had the clincher, as her goal in the 97th minute gave her a squad a 1-0 victory.
“There were plenty of reasons for us to go into that overtime and think it’s not going to fall in our favor,” said co-head coach Jess Jobe. “But our team kept believing. It’s incredibly inspiring to be apart of something like that.
“Every step of the way, there’s no quit.”
Field’s goal occurred immediately following another corner — off the foot of freshman Kyle Nolen — where she got her head on the ball that just sailed over the goal. But those pair of corners were the byproduct of an equally significant play from sophomore Olivia Draguicevich.
She sprinted down the right wing after a loose ball that nearly reached the end line. Draguicevich was able to battle a defender and earn the first of what would be two corner kicks.
“It’s a little detail, and there’s a lot of temptation in that moment to let it run out for a goal kick,” Jobe said. “For Olivia to fight and win the corner, it’s one of those details. It’s another one of those parts about our team identity.”
Another part of that identity is the grit to play and execute all while being a man down. Junior Natalee Henry received a second yellow card in the 77th minute that disqualified her from the match.
Fortunately for NSU, that situation is something it works on in practice.
“I’m not even surprised we could hold on with being a man down,” Field said. “We trained this week playing a man down, so we got lucky in the sense. It just shows we work hard and are not scared to attack what comes to us.”
The victory pushes NSU’s record to 6-0 on the season and 4-0 in Southland Conference play. The six straight victories to begin a season is the best mark in program history.
Another first for the program was the fact that Sunday was Northwestern State’s fifth straight shutout. And while NSU will celebrate Sunday’s win, the larger landmarks are something to be proud of, as well.
“Last fall, we really pushed them, and put the gas pedal down,” Jobe said. “I think seeing some of that coming to fruition — and then being rewarded in that sense — is great. It’s much more than a coaching accomplishment. It’s a team accomplishment. It’s history for all of these players to be apart of a team that can say they did something for the first time.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment, and I’m really, really proud of our players.”
Much of the match Sunday was played in the midfield. Neither team threatened all too often. NSU registered six shots on goals, one on frame, while Southeastern Louisiana had four, none of which were on target.
Field and junior Kalee Williams were the only players to boast multiple shots with two apiece. Sophomore Rachel Brandt and freshman Kyle Nolen laid claim to the other two shots.
Four different Lady Lions logged shots Sunday. None of them needed the attention of NSU junior goalkeeper Acelya Aydogmus.
Northwestern State travels to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday to make up a postponed game from Feb. 19. Friday night’s match is set to begin at 7 p.m.