The Sam Houston University Bearkat soccer team’s improbable run through the Southland Conference tournament was ended at the hands of the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions in the championship game with a 3-0 final score.
The Bearkats were awarded the No. 7 seed going into the tournament after winning four of their last five games. They would finish the regular season with a 5-5-1 record.
Game one: Jaw-dropping comeback
The Bearkats would have to take on the Lamar University Cardinals since they were the No. 2 seed. In their first matchup, the Bearkats stole a 2-0 victory from the Cardinals, which ultimately knocked them out of the top seed in the SLC.
The Bearkats entered halftime with a 2-0 deficit and would not help their case allowing a third goal for the Cardinals six minutes into the second half. Up until this point, Sam Houston had no comeback victory this season.
However, 40 seconds after the Cardinals took a 3-0 lead, the Bearkats were awarded a penalty kick. Freshman forward Landri Townsend was able to bury the penalty and cut the lead to two.
Sam Houston would continue to put the pressure on in the second half as they registered 20 shots in the last 45 minutes. Even with these shots, it looked bleak for the Bearkats as they entered the final five minutes.
In the 87th minute, junior defender Danielle Forsyth would score off an assist from fellow freshman defender Katarina Baehren to make it a 3-2 game. The Bearkats pressure continued to pay off with 17 seconds left in the game, sophomore forward Brooke Jones would score a header to tie the game and send it to overtime.
In overtime, Sam Houston would register the only four shots in that period and would finish the unreal comeback when senior midfielder Courtney Pawlik would score to end the game and give the Bearkats their first upset of the tournament.
Game two: Defense is the name of the game
In the semifinals, the Bearkats would take on the Abilene Christian University Wildcats. In their lone matchup earlier in the season, the Bearkats fell to ACU in a 2-0 loss in Huntsville, Texas.
Coming into the game, the Wildcats were the No. 3 seed in the tournament.
This game would be the polar opposite of the first game as there would only be one goal. Junior midfielder Grace Stine would score the lone goal of the game in the 53rd minute of the game. This would give the Bearkats a 1-0 victory and send them to their third conference championship game in school history.
Sophomore goalkeeper Tatum Krueger shined in this game as she had a clean sheet in the game-saving all seven-goal shots the Wildcats sent her way.
Game three: So close
The Bearkats would take on the No. 5 Lady Lions in the conference championship game but would fall short of completing their improbable run with the 3-0 loss. In their first matchup, the two teams tied 0-0.
Stat-wise, the game was closely even as Sam Houston registered 18 shots with five on goal compared to the 15 goals the Lady Lions had with seven on target. This included fourteen of the Bearkats shots coming in the second half.
Krueger continued to keep the Bearkats in the game in the first half, even after allowing an early goal. She bounced back saving a penalty kick, which looked to give the Bearkats momentum as the first half came to an end.
These offensive and defensive efforts would not be enough as the Lady Lions would score two more goals in the second half and end the Bearkats season.
Jones, Pawlik and Forsyth were all named to the all-tournament team after the team’s impressive run.
Even with the Bearkats loss, Sam Houston was chosen to finish ninth in the conference going into the season and beat all expectations making the finals, which should set their team up for a successful next season.