Bearkats split weekend on conference series

Sam Houston State University’s women’s soccer team defeated the University of Central Arkansas 1-0 Friday night but couldn’t complete the weekend sweep. They lost 2-1 in double overtime to Oral Roberts University Sunday afternoon.

SHSU rolled into Friday’s matchup red hot coming off a 5-2 win over Lamar University. However, the Bearkats couldn’t provide the goals the way they did versus the Cardinals.

It wasn’t until the 35th minute that the Bearkats connected for the only goal in the UCA game. Sophomore midfielder Shelby McDaniel ripped a shot from outside the 18-yard-box that was too difficult for the Bears’ goalkeeper to control, leaving the ball near the penalty box for freshman substitute Shannon Shields to bury into the back of the net.

Although Shields provided the game-winning goal for the match, it was the stellar defense of SHSU commanded by sophomore goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton that gave the Bearkats another Southland Conference win.

Freshman centerback Megan Bennett was forced to make goal line saves for SHSU alongside her outside backs, juniors Megan Manis and Ashley Fluty, to shut down the Bears’ star forward Adriana Lucar.

“[Lucar] was very big threat for our team,” Hambleton said. “I thought our defense dealt very well with her. Everyone had to make saves. Good team effort.”

Even with the win, head coach Tom Brown said he wasn’t too impressed with his team’s performance.

“I don’t really think [Friday night] was our best game,” Brown said. “But I think we lost some games where we were the better team, so in the long run I think it evens out. This was three very important points for us, so we’ll take it.”

SHSU’s two-game winning streak was snapped by ORU through a series of unfortunate events.

The Bearkats got on the board early in the first half with junior forward Kaisa Marshall finishing a volley sent in from McDaniel, but the goal would be called back as the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.

Shortly thereafter, sophomore Colby Glover, one of SHSU’s starting defenders, went down with an injury to her left leg after a hard tackle, taking her out for the rest of the game. Glover would have to be attended by trainers and eventually given crutches as freshman defender Mariah Hadley jumped off the bench to sub without warming up.

“I think it takes a good mental toughness to basically come in cold and step into an important place against some great attacking players, and I think she did some great things,” Brown said. “We’ll continue to evaluate Colby’s injury and make sure Hadley is ready to go if need be.”

Eventually SHSU would get the lead in the 49th minute with another hard-earned goal from the foot of Shields. Shields outran a Golden Eagle defender to slide in and get a shot past ORU’s goalkeeper Kaitlyn Keith, giving Shield’s a consecutive goal-scoring streak.

“[Shields] does a great job of getting in with her pace,” Brown said. “She’s been a player that has had tremendous work rate for us and score some important goals for us. [Sunday’s] effort I really felt should have been a game-winner but just not the way it happened.”

It seemed as if SHSU had rid the misfortune that had haunted them in the game, but then the team had another starting defender fall, this time coming from rightback Fluty.

As if things couldn’t get worse for the Bearkats, the Golden Eagles were awarded a penalty kick after a controversial call in the 75th minute. ORU had taken down junior Emily Edenstrom, who was playing in place of Fluty, inside the box, but the head official called the foul against the Bearkats.

“I think the penalty kick was a poor decision,” Brown said. “That’s the way it goes, and it sent the game into overtime.”

The defense did well throwing ORU’s attack off their game, but the Golden Eagles would soar past the Bearkats, capitalizing on a cross sent to the head of Jordan Parsons to win the game two minutes into the second overtime period after miscommunication in the backfield, Bennett said.

“It wasn’t a huge mistake on all of our parts, but it was definitely preventable,” she said.

Bennett added that it’s been up-and-down on defense, but with lessons learned heading into their next match.

“We definitely need to focus more on the players in the box and being tight on the eighteen,” she said. “I think we need to mark up tighter.”

SHSU dropped to 4-4 and seventh place in SLC play but will hope to redeem themselves Friday at Pritchett Field when they take on Texas A&M

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