For the third week in a row, Sam Houston State’s women’s soccer team split their weekend matches one apiece. Yet, one win was all SHSU needed to continue play in the post season.
The Bearkats clinched their way into Southland Conference playoffs by topping Houston Baptist University 1-0 Friday night in Houston.
After 87 minutes of scoreless play between quality chances from both sides, midfielder Shelby McDaniel broke the tie capitalizing on a free kick. The shot ricocheted off an HBU player in the defending wall to deflect into the net and give SHSU the win.
“I didn’t care who [scored] or how, but that was big to give us that security,” McDaniel said.
The Bearkats’ injury stricken defense had trouble containing the Huskie offense. HBU fired 16 shots and forcing goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton to make 9 saves, including a penalty kick save in the 70th minute from a questionable call that the Bearkats weren’t convinced was a penalty worth foul.
SHSU was able to hold on to the clean sheet for their fourth shutout of the season.
However, Sunday afternoon was a different story.
The Bearkats squared off against a challenging Nicholls State team led by the SLC’s leading goal-scorer Spencer Valdespino .In the seventh minute of the match, Bearkat midfielder Mariah Titus earned her team-leading eighth goal of the season as she booted a shot over Amanda Boylson to get the early lead in the match.
But the physicality and height difference would be too much for the Bearkats.
Valdespino tied things up off a free kick 18 yards out in the 36th minute, and Jess Coates finished a cross in the 53rd to take the 2-1 lead.
Although substitute Jordan Jarzombek would even the match for the Bearkats in the 80th minute, Valdespino would show why she’s one of SLC’s best with an 82nd minute goal to win the match 3-2 for the Colonels and secure a spot in the SLC tournament for Nicholls.
Sunday’s matchup wasn’t the last time the Bearkats suited up against the Colonels this season. SLC tournament seeding has the two facing each other once again in the first round.
But with SLC records only determining the seeding, the tournament provides the team with a mindset of a clean slate for SHSU, Hambleton said.
“Nothing that has happened up until this point matters and everyone has an equal chance to win each game,” Hambleton said. “I am very confident that if we come to play we can beat any team that we may face. We are going into each game with our all and leaving it all on the field each time. It’s do or die time.”
SHSU will begin their tournament run against the Colonels Thursday in Lake Charles, La.