Southland Conference Tournament
Wednesday, Nov. 1 • 11:00 AM • Corpus Christi, Texas • Dr. Jack Dugan Stadium
No. 7 Sam Houston State (7-8-2, 4-5-2) vs. Stephen F. Austin (11-7-0, 8-3-0)
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CORPUS CHRISTI – For the second time in five days, Sam Houston State will face off against Stephen F. Austin. This time, the season is on the line.
The seven-seeded Bearkats open the Southland Conference Tournament on Wednesday at 11 a.m. against the two-seed Ladyjacks from A&M-Corpus Christi’s Dr. Jack Dugan Stadium.
KATS BACK IN THE SOUTHLAND TOURNAMENT
Sam Houston is making its 10th Southland Conference Tournament appearance in its 15 seasons of existence.
After qualifying for seven-straight Southland Tournaments, Sam Houston missed out a season ago for the first time since 2008.
Sam Houston is 5-3 all-time in the opening round of the Southland Tournament including winning its last two (2013, 2015).
The Bearkats have advanced to the SLC Tournament finals twice in program history including its last trip to the event (2015). The team has never won a regular season or tournament championship (dating to 2003).
Sam Houston is facing SFA for the third time in the league tournament and for the first time in the opening round. The Kats are 1-1 against the Ladyjacks, falling 2-1 in 2013 and picking up a 3-1 win in 2005. Both matches were in the semifinals.
HOW WE GOT HERE…
Sam Houston produced a five-match conference unbeaten streak between Oct. 6 and Oct. 22, officially clinching a league tournament berth with a 2-2 tie at Incarnate Word on Sunday, Oct. 22.
The Bearkats started Southland Conference play 1-4-0 before finishing its league slate 3-1-2 including wins against Northwestern State (3-1), Southeastern Louisiana (2-0) and Abilene Christian (2-1).
A season ago, Sam Houston averaged just 0.79 goals per match, ranking last in the Southland Conference. The team missed the league tournament for the first time since 2008. This go-around, the squad has produced 1.76 goals per match (fifth in the league) including finishing third in league in corner kicks (84).
While much of the focus has been on the offensive improvement, the Kats have been equally as impressive in the net. Goalkeeper Christina Hendershot, a transfer from Tyler Junior College, allowed just six goals over the final seven matches and at one point, owned a scoreless-minutes streak of 282.
A LOOK AHEAD: FACING MCNEESE OR ABILENE CHRISTIAN
Should Sam Houston defeat Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday, it would mark the fourth-straight trip to the Southland Conference Tournament that the Bearkats had advanced to the semifinals.
A win would pit Sam Houston against either Abilene Christian or McNeese in the semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m. The Bearkats defeated the Wildcats, 2-1 in Abilene on Oct. 20 and played the Cowgirls arguably as tough. Sam Houston went into Lake Charles on Oct. 1, keeping McNeese off the board for 88 minutes before Savannah LaRicci scored the game winner.
Head coach Tom Brown on the Southland Tournament on what it takes to succeed…
“The conference tournament is always a tight competition just like the season. It is rare that the number one seed gets through. Two years ago when we played in the final, that game was played between the number three and four seeds. We just need to go out and focus on performing well.”
Head coach Tom Brown on facing Stephen F. Austin for a second-straight match…
“The game on Friday night was very competitive and I think this game will be also. With so little time, I would not expect major changes by either team. However, we will look for some things that we can adjust quickly and hopefully turn around Friday nights result.”
Head coach Tom Brown on new players competing in the event for the first time…
“Due to our position in the conference, we have played several games that were must wins and we did well at the end of conference. All of freshmen played at very competitive high schools so they are used to the tournament play. They need to focus on performing well when they are on the field and manage their recovery after each win.”