Northwestern State’s offense has teemed with potential this season, waiting for a breakout performance in conference play.
That explosion came Friday as the Lady Demons shut out Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 4-0 at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.
Cassandra Briscoe netted a career-high five points with two goals and an assist to lead the Lady Demons (5-7-3, 2-3-2 Southland Conference) to their first winning streak this season after topping Sam Houston State on Oct. 9.
“It was nice today, and we’ve been working hard all week instead of relaxing and just being happy with the Sam Houston State (win),” said Briscoe, whose parents are visiting from their native Ontario, Canada this weekend. “It’s so nice to have my parents here, and they make it down once every year.
“I try to really pick it up that game and try to score them a goal. Luckily today I got two.”
Briscoe initiated the scoring as a passer first, sailing a ball from the top of the box to an awaiting Esdeina Gonzalez. Gonzalez buried the shot in the left corner for a 1-0 lead near the 11-minute mark.
Briscoe scored the second goal less than a minute before halftime from inside the box on a pass from freshman Jasmine Juarez. The two goals bring Briscoe’s season total to four and career total to 14 goals. Friday was her third two-goal game of her career.
After junior Camila Ardila finished a ball from Gonzalez for NSU’s third goal (50th minute), Briscoe added to the tally by connecting on a penalty kick after a yellow card on Corpus Christi’s Daniela Gonzalez in the 70th minute.
“Our players seem to play well in front of friends and family, and we say all the time that if you can’t win in front of their friends and family, who can you win in front of?,” said NSU coach George Van Linder. “Corpus Christi has had some great scores, so we felt like it would be a difficult game as all in the Southland Conference have been.
“But our players worked hard, we’re so happy for them today, and we got some great goals. That’s a good team that we got some nice goals on today. The million-dollar question is what the difference was today compared to past games, and even though we’re really not sure, these girls just continue to work.”
NSU’s defense wasn’t to be outdone though, shutting out the Islanders (2-9-2, 2-4-1 SLC) on nine shot attempts to NSU’s 13.
Sophomore goalkeeper Alex Latham played her third full match with senior Brooke Bourbonais still injured, and Latham made five saves in the win. Latham has two shutouts in her three starts (0-0 against UIW) with just one goal allowed.
Sophomore defender Maja Lambertsson played a large role in the win after subbing in for an injured Patry Carrion.
“The defense played really well today, and we stayed together as a team,” Lambertsson said. “It all starts with the defense to build up a good offense.
“We’re starting to get more comfortable playing with each other. (Defender Sage Leffew) and I have really good conversations during the game and help each other out.”
NSU has recorded four team shutouts in total.
The win boosts the Lady Demons squarely into the SLC tournament picture with eight points through seven matches. NSU hasn’t qualified for the conference tournament since 2008.
The four-goal win is NSU’s largest in SLC play since 2009 (6-1 victory against Nicholls). The Lady Demons’ also extended their streak against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to three games by a combined 9-0 score.
The four goals allowed ties the Islanders’ season-high (Houston scored four), also ending the Islanders’ two-match winning streak.
NSU returns to their home pitch Sunday to face Houston Baptist at 1 p.m.