Heartbreaker at soccer Battle of Piney Woods, 1-0 loss

Stephen F. Austin State’s 96th-minute goal finished Sam Houston State’s women’s soccer team in their version of Battle of the Piney Woods on Sunday at Pritchett Field.

After two scoreless halves, Lumberjack midfielder Hailey Hunt buried a goal past Bearkat goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton to secure the match. SFA’s victory puts them at the top of Southland Conference standings, tied with Southeastern Louisiana with a 4-1 conference record.

The defeat was the Bearkats second overtime loss after a 2-1 fall Friday against Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.

“Unfortunately we’ve dropped two games in overtime and dropped six potential points,” head coach Tom Brown said. “The good thing is that I think our play is getting better.”

Following a slow first-half start for the Bearkats, SHSU’s offense picked up when a through-ball to forward Ashley Alonzo led to a goal in the 37th minute, but Alonzo was called offside, which kept the score even at nil.

“It was unfortunate that we had our goal called back,” Brown said. “We’ll take a look at the video and see whether that was right or wrong. That’s the way it goes some days.”

The Bearkats’ energy increased to start the second half with successful passing, but the team couldn’t find the missing link to string together a goal.

However, Hambleton kept the Bearkats in the game.

The Lady Jacks continuously found space in their attacking third to get looks at goal that forced Hambleton to acrobatically stop shots from getting in the net including back-to-back sliding and diving saves.

“[Hambleton] was disappointed coming out of Friday’s game,” Brown said. “I really thought she showed up and performed very well. [She] made some big-time saves, she’s got very good reaction and she’s a very good shot stopper.”

Although the Bearkats conceded nine shots on goal, the defensive aggression contained the Lady Jacks from scoring a goal early on. Freshman forward Shannon Shields contributed to SFA’s scoreless two-halves with her late goal line header off a corner that cleared the ball out and sent the game into overtime.

“I saw a lot of heart today,” Hambleton said. “[SFA] had a great set of forwards

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