NSU Soccer: Natalee Henry picked a good time for her first goal of the season, as her boot from outside the box found the back of the net to lift Northwestern State to a 2-1 overtime victory against Lamar Friday at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.
The sophomore from Tomball, Texas, scored after a corner kick was sent out to her by fellow sophomore Jalen Donaldson.
“When the ball came to me, I saw a great opening for me to finish and put it in the goal,” Henry said.
Henry’s goal was the second NSU tally in 10 minutes after the Lady Demons trailed 1-0 in the 88th minute.
“We’re extremely proud of our team,” co-head coach Jess Jobe said. “There’s not much we can’t do right now and that’s how we feel. There’s not much we can’t overcome. This second half of the season has been a tremendous turnaround and we’re continuing to get better and better every week.”
For NSU (5-5, 2-0), it was the fifth win in a row to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season. It is the first time beginning conference play 2-0 since 2006 when NSU began 3-0. It also snaps a two-game losing streak to the Cardinals.
Lamar (4-6, 1-1) saw its three-match winning streak come to an end. With the one goal scored, the Cardinals fell to 0-6 this season when scoring one or fewer goals.
It was an evenly played first half, with the Lady Demons and Cardinals scoreless. Both conference matches were scoreless at the half. Acelya Aydogmus, who was the starting goalkeeper, stopped all three shots sent in her direction in the opening frame.
The contest remained scoreless until the 58th minute when Lamar’s Esther Okoronkwo put one in the back of the net to the lower left corner of the goal.
NSU remained in attack, having chances to score, but could not solve Lamar goalkeeper Sandra Nygard.
But the Lady Demons’ pressure finally helped them break through, as on a corner kick, Lamar tried to boot it out of harms way, but in doing so, booted into its own net and the game was tied in the 88th minute.
That was the spark they needed, as from then on, NSU dominated action. The game went to the extra session, where the Lady Demons turned up the pressure and it paid off.
“We smelled blood in the water after that late goal,” Jobe said. “We could see how difficult it was for them to give that goal up and we could see their heads drop. We were reading some body language that really gave us the belief that we were going to go on and win the game.”
Donaldson, who led the team with six shots on the night, had a great scoring chance, but her rocket of a shot was saved on a tremendous effort by Nygard in the top right corner of the net.
In the span of three minutes, NSU had four of its eight corner kicks on the night. On the third one, the NSU players thought it had won off a mad scramble in front of the net, but the officials ruled no goal.
But on the fourth corner kick, the Cardinals were not as lucky, as freshman Rachel Brandt sent in the corner, but was knocked out to Henry, who blasted the winner from just outside the top of the box.
The defense showed up in a big way once again. Lamar scored 13 goals in the previous three contests, but the stifling NSU defense held it to just one.
Arguably the top player in the conference, Lucy Ashworth, had scored in four consecutive contests, including a 10-point performance in the season opener against Nicholls. She was held to no points and three shots (two on goal).
Once again, NSU led in shots, 17-10. The 17 shots are a season-high, and 10 players registered at least one shot. Aydogmus made six saves in the win.
NSU is back in action at home Sunday when it plays in-state rival McNeese. The contest is at 1 p.m.
CREDIT: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services