By Bud Denega, Sports Information Graduate Assistant (NSU)
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It has been quite a while since the Northwestern State soccer team last battled Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. But even in that long hiatus — 503 days, to be exact — NSU hasn’t forgotten the significance of that last matchup.
“We were in a really, really good position to not only finish as a high seed and put ourselves in a great position going into the tournament, but we were really close to putting ourselves in a position — on the final day of the season — to be competing for a regular-season championship,” said co-head coach Jess Jobe. “We look back at the Corpus game as being one we felt, as a program, we let slip away from us.”
The Lady Demons opportunity at exacting some revenge will occur Friday in Corpus Christi. The match is set for 7 p.m. at the Dr. Jack Dugan Soccer and Track and Field Stadium.
NSU enters with a 6-0 overall record, which includes a 4-0 mark in Southland Conference play. The unblemished mark through six games marks the best such beginning to a season in school history.
That torrid start comes with its fair share of challenges. And they’re challenges that NSU is welcoming.
“We know the circumstances, and we know with continued success comes continued targets,” Jobe said. “Right now, we’re feeling like we are getting our opponents best versions of themselves and best games, and that’s making it difficult.”
It hasn’t stopped Northwestern State from setting another applaud-worthy mark. Five straight shutouts matches the best such streak in school history that the 2009 squad accomplished.
That’s a credit to all 11 on the field at any given time, but particularly the back three and most specifically junior goaltender Acelya Aydogmus. She hasn’t allowed a goal since midway through the first half of the season opener at Louisiana Tech.
That’s a stretch of just over 519 minutes. That impressive streak includes three consecutive Southland Conference Goalkeeper of the Week honors.
Offensively, NSU has received contributions from all over the roster. Junior Kalee Williams leads the way with four goals, but she’s received plenty of help and quite a bit recently.
Sophomore Olivia Draguicevich has a pair of scores this season. Fellow sophomore Hallie Field netted the game winner Sunday in overtime for her first goal of the season. The freshmen trio of Delaney Wells, Cianne Talamo and Kyle Nolen round out NSU’s goal-scorers.
Those aforementioned seven and the rest of NSU’s roster will be making the longest trip it can make in conference. It’s over seven hours on a bus to travel from Natchitoches to Corpus Christi.
While that distance is a hurdle in need of clearing, NSU is confident in its ability to do just that.
“It’s a business trip for us,” Jobe said. “We’ll avoid a lot of distractions that would potentially have been present had we been home. There are pros and cons, but our team is road warriors. We proved that last year, and we’ve done so far this year.”
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi sports a 2-3-1 overall record and a 1-1 mark in Southland Conference play. The Islanders are fresh off a 3-0 victory at McNeese.
Maggie Murray, Abby Deakin and Olivia Alvarez pace Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, as each have scored three goals this season. Kyleigh Hall has started the last three games in net, boasting a GAA of 1.00.
It’s a single-game trip to south Texas for Northwestern State with no other conference matches scheduled. Following the match against the Islanders, NSU returns to action a week from Friday at home against Stephen F. Austin.
Currently, the Lumberjacks are the other unbeaten team in Southland Conference play. They sit a half game back of NSU with a record of 3-0 in league play and 5-2-2 overall mark.