HUNTSVILLE – Friday night was a tale of two halves for Sam Houston State. The Bearkats came out strong in the second half but could not complete the comeback in the Southland Conference opener at Pritchett Field.
Sam Houston fell 2-1 to Central Arkansas despite an aggressive final 45 minutes that saw the Kats outshoot the Bears by three. The loss puts Sam Houston at 3-4-0 overall and 0-1-0 in the Southland. Central Arkansas improved to 4-5-0 and starts in league season 1-0-0.
Lindsey Bienski came off the bench to provide the Bearkats lone goal in the 67th minute. Her first goal of the season came as Meredith Carlson hit a beautiful cross to a Bienski header as it went in on the right side of the net.
The Bearkats return to action and continue their season-long four-match homestand next Friday when they take on A&M-Corpus Christi. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. from Pritchett Field.
Fans are encouraged to be aware of southbound lane closings along I-45 between New Waverly and FM 1375 which begins at 8 p.m. Traffic will be diverted southbound onto one lane of northbound I-45, which will likely create delays for motorists in both directions.
FIRST HALF After jumping ahead three minutes last time out, the Bearkats fell victim to the early deficit. UCA capitalized on its opening opportunity as Hadley Dickinson fired a shot in which was deflected by Hendershot.
The ball ricocheted back out as Kristen Ricks used a one-time shot finding an open left side of the net. The goal was her first of the season and provided the Bears a 1-0 advantage.
Sam Houston earned some opportunities, including a pair of corner kicks midway through the first half but could not capitalize.
In the 25th minute, the Bears doubled their lead as Ashley Smith sent a shot off a Sam Houston defender and into an open net. The Kats nearly trimmed the deficit in half minutes later, getting the ball into the box and firing multiple shots that were blocked.
The Bears outshot the Bearkats 9-6 including 6-2 in shots on goal. Sam Houston, which entered second in the league in corners kicks per game (5.33) produced four in the opening frame but could not put anything in net.
SECOND HALF The Kats opened the second half showcasing its physicality and speed, creating opportunities down both sides of the field. Carlson took the sixth corner of the game for the Kats, coming in the 64th, but the ball trickled through.
Head coach Tom Brown on the loss…
“I was really disappointed with our play in the first half. We’d had a good warmup. We got into the game and made a big mistake early and just played on our heels the rest of the half. I thought the workload just wasn’t enough and we discussed that at halftime. In the second half, we came out and were able to press and work as a group. I thought we created some dangerous situations. Lindsey came in and was big for us. I think we just have to remember that the intensity with how we played the second half is how we have to play all time.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the second half…
“I thought with how we played, coming out to win balls in the air and have better contact with the players we were marking was better. As we get into conference, we have to compete because everyone is going to play hard. I don’t know why we had the mindset we did in the first half but it wasn’t good enough. We know we have to play harder like we did in the second half.”