COMMERCE, Texas—For the first time as a member of the Southland Conference, newcomer Texas A&M-Commerce awaits the Northwestern State women’s soccer team.
NSU (4-2-2 overall, 1-1-1 SLC) travel to Commerce for the first time as conference foes, facing off at Lion Soccer Field on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Lady Demons are coming off a weekend in which they tied for a point at Southeast Louisiana after falling to Lamar, two of the top three teams at the top of the SLC standings.
TAMUC (2-5-1, 2-1) lost its first four games of the regular season, not finding the back of the net in any of those games. However, the Lions turned things around, winning two and drawing one in their next three games, including the first two in the league.
Despite losing last time out, the Lions scared away the league-leading Lamar Cardinals, leading the first 79 minutes before Lamar scored three goals in the next six minutes to claim a 3-1 win from behind.
“They work hard and are off to a great start,” the NSU women’s soccer head coach said. Stuart Gore said. “They’ve had a great start to the conference after a poor start to the season, which could have easily affected them.
“(Texas A&M-Commerce Head Coach) Ashley (Gordon) is a very seasoned coach, having coached at the highest level of the power of five. She knows what she’s doing.”
The first and only meeting between the two schools was on October 15, 1996, NSU’s first season, a 2-0 TAMUC win.
Sisters Sara and emma fernandezoriginally from Val Alstyne, Texas, return near their hometown, 50 miles from Commerce.
“It’s really exciting to come back and play close to home,” Sara Fernandez said. “I think it kind of makes you want to win even more.”
When Emme, a graduate student, was looking for a school to go play closer to home, she only contacted one school.
“My decision to come here was influenced by the fact that Sara plays here, 100%”, emma fernandez said. “I told Stuart (Gore) when I first called him that NSU was the only school I was watching. A big part of that was playing with my sister.”
Last weekend, NSU was unable to dent the scoreboard despite going 22-8 up against opponents. Gore thinks that gives them confidence after controlling much of both games.
Sunday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Olivia Draguicevitch scored a season-high six goals for NSU, including a hat-trick against Jackson State. She is five off the school record for most goals in school history. His 65 points overall are the third in program history.
Nathalie Henry Is just behind Draguicevich in points with eight, scoring three goals and providing two assists.
The defense was again extinguished, limiting chances against Lamar and SLU, including helping kick off the shutout against the Lady Lions in the scoreless draw.
NSU created chances, leading the league in total shot attempts (127) and second in shots per game in the league (14).
TAMUC’s Mya Mitchell made a major impact in her first season for the Lions, scoring four league-leading goals in SLC play. After failing to register a point in his first five contests, the rookie scored all four goals and nine points in conference play. In a 4-1 win over Houston Christian, she scored two goals and added an assist.
The Lions are one of the youngest teams in the conference and none of the players who recorded a point for TAMUC this season are seniors and four of them (22 of their 26 total points) were scored by first or second year students.
Lead goaltender Gillian McKenzie is also a rookie. She is second in the league with 12 saves in conference play. In her three conference games, she has a 1.67 goals-against average and a .706 save percentage.
After the game, NSU returned to Natchitoches for one game, hosting new Houston Christian (formerly Baptist) on September 30 before hitting the road for two straight games.