Ladyjacks soccer places eighth to play in SLC tournament against Lamar

Senior midfielder Mari Gillespie challenges an opponent with the ball during the Ladyjacks’ match against Southeastern Louisiana University. The women lost 2-1 in their last home game before finishing off the season with three away games.

The Ladyjacks soccer team is competing in the Southland Conference tournament after defeating Sam Houston State University 2-1 on Friday. SFA enters the tournament as the eighth seed, putting them up against the number one seed, Lamar University.

The quarterfinals begin on Wednesday as Sam Houston plays Northwestern State at 11 a.m., McNeese plays Abilene Christian at 2 p.m., SFA plays Lamar at 5 p.m. and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi plays Incarnate Word at 8 p.m. All games will be played at the Bill Stephens Track and Soccer Complex in Conway, Arkansas, and live streamed on the Southland Digital Network. The final game will be viewable on ESPN+.

The match against the Bearkats determined whether the Ladyjacks played in the tournament because the University of Central Arkansas was one win away from taking SFA’s place. The Ladyjacks showed performances by junior forward Elise Davis and junior midfielder Katelyn Termini, each with one goal. The two goals were scored from the two shots the Ladyjacks took the entire game. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Madeline Talbot allowed one goal out of the 19 shots the Bearkats took, saving six of those shots.

Twelve fouls were called against the Ladyjacks, and three yellow cards were given. One of the fouls called resulted in a penalty kick. The Bearkats’ lone goal was scored by freshman midfielder Kalynn Bickford. Termini was named to the All-SLC First Team, and junior midfielder Sophia Fondren and Talbot were named to the All-SLC Second Team. Talbot was also named the Southland Conference Goalkeeper of the Week.

Last season, the Ladyjacks entered the conference tournament as the seventh seed. They made it to the final game but lost 3-1 against fifth- seed Abilene Christian University.

“We’ve found good rotation,” head coach Wally Crittenden said. “We’ve found a good defensive scheme that’s resulting in some really good soccer. We’re tough to play against right now. A year ago, this was a similar-type rhythm that we had to establish. We’ve said all along: There’s a run in this team. The question is when to hit that run. I think we’re in no better position to hit this run going into the conference tournament.”

Lamar bested SFA this season, taking a 4-1 win of their only matchup. The lone goal of that game being scored by Termini. If the Ladyjacks win in the quarterfinals, they will play against either fifth seed TAMUCC or fourth seed UIW.

With a conference record of 10-1 compared to the Ladyjacks’ 5-6 record, Lamar has obtained its second SLC regular season championship in three years. Several of the Cardinals’ players received accolades, including junior forward Lucy Ashworth named SLC Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and First Team All-SLC. With Ashworth, redshirt junior forward Esther Okoronkwo was named SLC Newcomer of the Year, and First Team All-SLC. Head coach Steve Holeman was named Coach of the Year.

Both Ashworth and Okoronkwo have over 15 goals this season. The Ladyjacks will be up against Lamar’s goalkeeper, sophomore Sandra Nygard, who allowed one goal in out of nine shots in the last meeting against the Ladyjacks. Nygard has allowed 21 goals this season and saved 66 shots in the 15 games she has played.

If the Ladyjacks win Wednesday’s game, they will play at 7 p.m. on Friday against the winner of the match between University of the Incarnate Word and Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi.

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