EDINBURG – The only thing hotter than the temperature on Friday afternoon was the offensive output.
Sam Houston State connected on three first-half goals in as many minutes and Carly English produced the match winner in the 58th minute as the Bearkats edged CSU Bakersfield, 4-3 in the season opener from the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
It was the second time in three years Sam Houston (1-0) has won its opener. The three-goal first half marked the highest scoring opening 45 minutes for the squad since netting as many against UIW on Nov. 1, 2015. The four total goals were the most in a match since Sept. 13, 2015 at Prairie View A&M.
The Kats outshot the Roadrunners (0-1) 11-4 in the first half and 17-15 on the game. Carlota Suarez-Crespo led all players with five shots including four on goal. Her lengthy score in the seventh minute provided Sam Houston a 2-0 advantage.
CSU Bakersfield managed just one shot on goal in the opening frame. Bearkat goalkeeper Christina Hendershot logged three saves and helped stave off any late magic from the Roadrunners to earn the win. Sam Houston closes out its brief two-game road trip on Sunday against host UTRGV. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
HOT START HIGHLIGHTED BY CAREER FIRSTS
Beryl Smith began the scoring, netting a perfect corner from Courtney Pawlik to give Sam Houston the early advantage in the sixth minute. It marked the first career goal for Smith who added a pair of assists in her first season with the program a year ago.
Less than 20 seconds later, highly-touted midseason transfer Carlota Suarez-Crespo grabbed one away from the Roadrunners (0-1) and raced towards the net, rifling in the long-distance shot to push the advantage to 2-0 on the back of her first goal in a Sam Houston uniform.
Sophomore Katy Johnson continued the hot start, netting her first career goal in the 10th minute. It marked the sixth time in the last five seasons that the Bearkats had scored three or more goals in a half including just the second in non-conference action during that span.
ROADRUNNERS REBOUND TO OPEN SECOND HALF
Sam Houston saw its lead slip away early in the second half as CSU Bakersfield answered the bell, scoring three goals between the 50th and 53rd minute including the equalizer from Alexa Orrante, who grabbed her own rebound off a penalty kick and put one home.
PUT A LITTLE ENGLISH ON IT
Carly English reversed the momentum back on the side of Sam Houston in the 58th minute. The junior transfer grabbed the ball after it slipped her way and gave the Bearkats the lead for good. The eventual match winner came five minutes after CSU Bakersfield knotted the game at three-a-piece.
Opening thoughts from head coach Tom Brown…
“I thought it was a game of a lot of swings. We were able to get those early three goals. They did a good job getting themselves back in the game. They did a good job against us to start the second half. Once we settled in a little bit, we started to create a couple opportunities. Carly scored a great goal to get us a lead. From there, the team fought hard. With being the first game, it shows us a lot of teachable moments. We’re happy to start the season with a win. 1-0 is a lot better than 0-1.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the offensive outburst…
“I think we obviously were able to bring in some players that have really created more of an attacking attitude for the team. We worked hard on that during the spring. I think it showed as we got into today’s game. Beryl got us started off with a flick header. She’s a team leader. The team fed off that. Carlota’s goal from way out caught the keeper off guard. Katy has done a good job. We moved her over to the right side. She was able to get a look and tuck it into the corner.”
Head coach Tom Brown on the match winner from Carly English...
“We had an attack. A ball squirted out into open space. She got a good run and put a nice smack on it. It was great placement up in the top corner. I think she’s an emotional leader within our team. The team was excited she was able to score that. We will continue to look for big things from her as well as the rest of the team.”