Sam Houston State’s junior forward Ashley Alonzo completed the covenant hat trick to give the Bearkats the 4-1 victory over Incarnate Word on Sunday.
SHSU is now at 1-1 in the Southland Conference after a 3-2 loss to Abilene Christian on Friday.
“Before the game, we talked about connecting those passes and finding that perfect through ball in and trying to find runners through because we knew they had gaps in their defense,” Alonzo said.
Heading into Friday’s match, SHSU saw troubles on offense with only five goals on the season. In the last two games, the Bearkats netted six goals – five alone between Alonzo and junior midfielder Shelby McDaniel.
“I think the biggest thing is those possibilities have been there for a long time,” head coach Tom Brown said. “Hopefully now they can feel like they can get in and will continue to work on their goal scoring and be able to produce on the field.”
The Bearkats opened the scoring early at Pritchett Field against the Cardinals when senior defender Ashley Fluty threaded a perfect long ball to sophomore forward Allie Johnson inside the box in the fourth minute of the match. Johnson took a touch and buried the ball to the back of the net.
With 17 seconds left in the first half, sophomore forward Maddy Panozzo split the defense just outside the box, giving Alonzo the easy finish past the Cardinals’ keeper.
The Cardinals had an easy look on goal with 15 minutes left in the first half. UIW was awarded a penalty kick that didn’t leave head coach Tom Brown happy. However, the Cardinals’ junior midfielder Megan Baker blasted the shot high over the crossbar.
UIW was able to find the back of the net in the 58th minute when the ball was tossed around back-and-forth inside the Bearkats’ box before landing at Cardinals’ senior midfielder Sarah Johnson’s feet for the goal past junior goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton.
It was Hambleton’s first start in SLC play this season after sitting out against ACU. She said it felt great getting back between the pipes, especially getting the three points, she said.
“We needed those three points at home,” Hambleton said. “We’re trying to get all the points at home and steal a few on the road.”
Alonzo found goals two and three in the last 20 minutes of the game to give SHSU its first hat trick since 2009.
Junior midfielder Mariah Titus sent a corner kick to Alonzo, who was wide open inside the box in the 72nd minute. Alonzo buried the one-time shot to the upper-left corner of the goal.
Senior forward Jessica Toms was taken down inside the box seven minutes later, awarding SHSU with a penalty of its own.
Alonzo received the nod for the penalty and struck it to the bottom left corner for the final goal of the game.
SHSU is idle Friday, but will resume SLC play Sunday against McNeese State.