The Sam Houston State University soccer team opened conference play with a bang after a 3-2 comeback win over the defending Southland Conference champion University of Central Arkansas Bears.
The Bearkats were able to hold their own. They were outshot 14-12 with one less shot on goal. Freshman goalkeeper Tatum Krueger continued to play well in goal, tallying seven saves compared to UCA’s five. However, at the end of the day the stat that matters most is the final score— and thanks to true freshman midfielder Kalynn Bickford’s overtime heroics, SHSU is 1-0 this season.
The game began slowly. UCA defender Taylor Webb scored the first goal in the 14th minute, and that was the most exciting action of the first half. Both teams stayed competitive, though, and the game looked like it could go either way entering halftime.
UCA controlled the possession in the beginning of the second half and was able to secure a second goal in the 68th minute of the game. At the time, it looked to be the clinching goal as time began to wind down. The Bearkats only had 20 minutes left to come back from a 2-0 deficit, but SHSU was not going to go quietly.
The team refused to quit. In the 73rd minute, junior midfielder Briana Woodall scored a goal on a heads up play when the goalie was out of position after saving a shot seconds before.
71 seconds later, the Kats stormed back down the pitch and scored another goal to tie the game. Freshman defender Kenzie Arrington played a ball over the top of the defense onto the feet of junior forward Sammi Mayock who was able to get past a defender and score the Bearkats’ second goal to force overtime tied at two.
In overtime, the Bearkats was on UCA early; they were able to get a shot off within the first five minutes. In the 98th minute, Woodall was able to draw a foul inside the goalie box resulting in a penalty kick. Bickford stepped up to the challenge and was able to bury the ball in the back of the net for her first collegiate goal.
This victory was the Bearkats’ first win over UCA since 2015.
“I felt really confident throughout the game,” Bickford said. “I’ve been working really hard and at practice, so I felt pretty confident. I was really relieved and just scoring my first collegiate goal. It’s just an awesome feeling.”
Head coach Tom Brown appreciated his squad’s resilience.
“There was a lot of character shown by our team going down 2-0 here at home,” Brown said. “[Woodall] scored a great goal for us, then [Mayock] made a great run and a lot of composure by [Bickford] at the end— a freshman stepping up to make the penalty and win the game. Hopefully this is a big boost for us after dropping our first two overtime games.”
SHSU will turn its attention to Houston Baptist University Sep. 27 in Huntsville at 6:30 p.m.