ABILENE – Sam Houston State’s performance on Friday night was monstrous in multiple ways.
The Bearkats defeated Abilene Christian, 2-1, leapfrogging the Wildcats in the Southland Conference standings while moving into sixth place. As instrumental of a win as it was, it only seemed appropriate that it was also the 100th in the history of the program.
Sam Houston (7-7-1, 4-4-1) received goals from Carly English and Carlota Suarez Crespo with the latter serving as the match-winner after the Wildcats’ tied it up minutes into the second half. The Kats staved off 22 ACU (6-10-0, 4-5-0) shots as well as nine corner kicks.
In the net, Christina Hendershot helped the Kats to their first win in five tries against ACU, matching a season-high with eight saves while moving her record to 5-5-1. The junior has permitted one goal or less in each of her last five matches and is 3-1-1 during that stretch.
The squad plays its final road match of the season on Sunday, heading to Incarnate Word. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sam Houston closes out its regular-season campaign next Friday, hosting Stephen F. Austin at 6:30 p.m.
Sam Houston received a big momentum boost just nine minutes in from Carly English who drove a ball over the head of Abilene Christian goalkeeper Rachel Johnson from 45 yards out. The netter was her second of the season and first since the season opener against CSU Bakersfield on Aug. 18.
English produced two of six first-half shots for the Bearkats and two of the three shots on goal. The remaining five shots came from as many different players including a shot on goal from Carlota Suarez Crespo three minutes into the match.
Abilene Christian registered eight shots but was kept at bay by keeper Christina Hendershot who hauled in three saves. Each team finished with one corner kick.
The Wildcats did not wait long to even the match up, tying the match at 1-1 as Christina Arteaga struck for her sixth goal of the season. The netter, which came in the 47th minute, snapped Hendershot’s scoreless-minutes streak at 282 and gave ACU new life.
Arteaga produced three-straight shots for the Wildcats but Sam Houston struck back. Carlota Suarez Crespo continued her case for Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year, putting the Kats back in the lead in the 61st minute with the assist from English.
The goal was her seventh of the season and her third in league play. The forward has had a hand in four of Sam Houston’s last six goals as part of the resurgent Sam Houston offense this season.
ACU went on the attack, producing three corners in less than two minutes but Sam Houston was up to the task. Hendershot recorded four saves in just over a 10-minute time frame following the Wildcats’ goal.
Head coach Tom Brown on the big-time road victory…
“I think we got two very opportunistic goals. I think there were stretches where Abilene really controlled the game. Obviously, it showcases that in the shot stats. I thought the players dug in and were able to get a bit more pressure in, especially late. We were able to catch them on a counter on the second goal. That was a very important finish for us with Carlota.”
Head coach Tom Brown on staving off 14 second-half ACU shots…
“The biggest thing was Christina Hendershot's performance. It took a really special shot to beat her. We had kind of fallen back a little and were trying to decrease the space behind us. They were very mobile in the first half. We did a little better job with that in the second half.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the pair of goals…
“With Carly, it was a free kick from near half field. She played a good ball in and their keeper had it go off her hands. Our players were pressing it. (With Carlota) We had won a ball a little higher in the midfield and we were able to put an early play in for Carlota right at the edge of the 18. The keeper came out and it was one of things where Carlota was able to punch one in.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the importance of the weekend…
“The weekend has a couple things. Obviously two wins on the road would bring a lot of confidence considering the conference tournament is on the road for us. We would like to go in and get the points at Incarnate Word rather than back ourselves into the tournament. It’s an important 36 hours for our program here this weekend.”