LAKE CHARLES — The Northwestern State soccer team defined grit, in the purest sense of the word, Sunday at McNeese.
NSU didn’t have its full assortment of starters. Some of those missing pieces are large proponents of the Lady Demons’ offensive build up.
With those components missing, goals were hard to come by again. NSU was also dealing with the disappointment off its first loss of the season that it suffered Friday.
But even with all that working against it, Northwestern State emerged victorious Sunday. McNeese suffered an own goal in the 82nd minute — which was a result of NSU offensive pressure — and Northwestern State earned a 1-0 victory at Cowgirl Field.
“We were obviously disappointed, and rightfully so, about the result on Friday, and part of the characteristics that were going to lead us to rebound was going be grit, heart and fight,” said co-head coach Jess Jobe. “We needed to have a willingness to use some of those emotions to spur us on and get us back on the right foot.”
The win improves NSU to 8-1-1 overall and 6-1-1 in Southland Conference play, while the loss drops the Cowgirls to 3-5-1 overall and 3-4-1 in league action. Northwestern State keeps pace with Lamar, which is 8-1-0 in conference, and both squads clinched a spot in the Southland Conference Tournament on Sunday.
The game’s lone goal was a result of consistent offensive pressure from NSU in the attacking third. For the game, Northwestern State recorded six shots, five of which were on frame. Five different players — juniors Jalen Donaldson and Norma Trejo, sophomore Olivia Draguicevich, and freshmen Cianne Talamo and Sara Roche — laid claim to those scoring chances.
“We dominated pretty much every phase of the game, but in the end, we had to fight, and we had to scrap,” Jobe said. “We had to do everything we could to put ourselves in a position to win. We are really happy for the result, no matter how it comes. It’s three points, and we needed it.”
Junior goaltender Acelya Aydogmus stood tall in net for NSU. McNeese fired six shots, as well — five on target — and Aydogmus turned away all five to log her seventh shutout of the season.
“Ace was really strong today, and she was really good for us, being reliable,” Jobe said. “Our entire backline, the heart and fight and resilience to keep going under every circumstance today was a positive, and we are really proud of them.”
NSU enjoys a week off from completion, and that comes at a good time. The roster is a little banged up, and 11 days between games is going to do a world of good to remedy some of those ailments.
“Healing is going to be the No. 1 priority, as well as diving deep and getting really detail oriented in a few things that we want to continue to be part of how we play tactically,” Jobe said. “(The time off) is going to allow us time to add some layers to our play and to our system.”
Northwestern State returns to action April 1. NSU hosts Abilene Christian at 7 p.m. at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.