CORPUS CHRISTI – Seven-seed Sam Houston State could not capitalize on its fair share of chances, falling 4-1 in the Southland Conference Tournament opener to two-seed Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday at Dugan Soccer Stadium.
The Bearkats (7-9-2) registered four corner kicks in the first 11 minutes and controlled a majority of possession in the opening half but fell behind in the 19th minute as SFA’s Breanna Moore used a breakaway to beat goalkeeper Christina Hendershot for the matches’ opening goal.
The win pushed Stephen F. Austin (12-7-0) into the tournament semifinals on Friday against the winner of No. 6 Abilene Christian and No. 3 McNeese. Meanwhile, the Kats close out the season after making a return to the conference event after missing a season ago.
Carly English produced the lone goal for Sam Houston, coming in the 66th minute as she fired in from the top of the 18-yard box for her third goal of the season on a pass from Meredith Carlson. At the time, the netter trimmed the Kats’ deficit to 3-1 but less than a minute later, SFA answered as Carli Arthurs struck from 35 yards out, extending the lead back to three.
The Ladyjacks second goal of the match came just three minutes into the second half as Hanna Barker dribbled to about 25 yards out and fired in. The loss was the first in a month for Henderson as SFA out-shot the Bearkats, 13-12 including 7-3 on the net.
Sammi Mayock led the Kats with three shots, including one on goal before the half that needed a strong save from SFA goalkeeper Allyson Smith. Barker led the Jacks with three shots including a pair on net.
Head coach Tom Brown on the season-ending loss in the tournament…
“I thought the team played very well in the first half. We were able to move the ball. We created a couple great opportunities right after the kickoff. We had some great momentum and just unfortunately, couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net. I think when the second goal came for them early in the second half and they got the penalty kick right after, that really put a dent in the players’ momentum. It hard was to come back. Carly did a great job getting that goal scored but we gave up one pretty quick after that. It was hard to re-build that momentum coming forward.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the difference in the two matches vs. SFA…
“I thought that they caught us on that goal. We just weren’t able to get those chances finished early. That was a little of an issue as well on that Friday night. We’ve got to, as we get prepared for next year, really with that group of front, have the mentality to get in and be calm under pressure and finish. I think that was the difference today.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the positives with a strong core of players returning in 2018…
“I thought we got better as the season went along. We went three or four weeks without losing a game. The Stephen F. game at home was very tight. It’s disappointing to lose today. We graduate two of these players but return a whole host of players who have fantastic experience. The SFA game at home, that whole back line wasn’t at Sam Houston last year. Only two players who started the final game at Stephen F. in 2016 started the game in 2017. There are a lot of new and young faces. Things are only looking better as we go forward. We’ll take the disappointment of today but I think that will help us develop as a team going into future years.”