Sam Houston State fell one goal short as they missed a berth to the Southland Conference Tournament when they were defeated by Lamar 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Pritchett Field.
Losing by a single goal is a familiar area for the Bearkats this year, especially in conference play at home. They have lost four SLC home games by single digits. Nevertheless, the Bearkats seemed to have found their rhythm when they pounded visiting first place McNeese State 3-0 on Friday night. However, the momentum didn’t transfer.
On Sunday, the Bearkats jumped out to a 1-0 lead against Lamar at the 36:46 mark off of Luana Miessa’s corner that found senior Raquel Bueno on the far post as she drove the ball into the back of the net. With the lead, it seemed certain that SHSU would be able to carry on the magic from Halloween and secure another game for the seniors.
However, the second half would play out differently than what the Bearkats had hoped.
After playing for ten minutes in the second half, Lamar’s Lisa Hance crossed the ball towards the goal and Courtney Stocks played it in the air with a header that sailed over goalie Jenny Pence. Cardinal Carrie Mrazek was in perfect position when the ball landed, and she tied the game 1-1 at the 55 minute mark.
Although the goal was Mrazek’s first of the season, it would not be her only contribution to her team.
With time running out on the last game of the regular season for both teams, tension could be felt in the air. A combined total of ten shots were launched by both teams in less than 31 minutes, including four corner kicks and three forced saves by the Bearkats, but it was the Cardinals that would capitalize.
With four minutes left, Mrazek passed to teammate Aline Pugliesi who drilled the game-winner from less than 20 yards out at the 86:11 mark.
With the defeat, 7th place Sam Houston fell to 9-7 overall with a 3-4 conference record while 8th place Lamar improved to 4-11-1 overall with a 2-6-1 SLC mark.
The home loss would be the final collegiate game for six Bearkat’s. However, seniors Raquel Bueno, Carla Campbell, Brittany Foerstner, Laera Gattoni, Monica Madden, and Noelle Wiggins leave the program with its first ever winning season. Bueno will also depart Sam Houston State as the leading all-time scorer with 27 goals.
Hopes are high for next season, as the Bearkats return sophomore goalie Jenny Pence, who had a .830 save percentage and seven shutouts, along with sophomore Luana Miessa, who scored ten goals and had eight assists. The Bearkats also have five 16-game starters returning, including freshmen Britni Martin and Kate Wesneski, as well as sophomore Nichole Watkins.
Of the season, first year head coach Tom Brown said that his staff had “higher expectations” for next season, and that it was a step up compared to previous years with many records set. He focused on the future, saying that he had “nine months to work towards” the 2009 season and that “the [players] should have the potential to be more successful”, adding that they would be “fit” and “better prepared to win.”