Draguicevich hits paydirt as Northwestern State takes Southland Conference opener

By Aaron Ferguson, Sports Information Graduate Assistant

The Northwestern State soccer team, looking to make a statement entering league play, left with a 1-0 victory against 2021 Southland Conference champion Southeastern Louisiana.

The Lady Demons (1-3-2, 1-0 SLC) fought off a furious assault from Southeastern Louisiana (1-4, 0-1 SLC) attackers in the second half of Friday night’s Southland Conference opener, holding on as time expired.

The night’s lone goal was scored by junior forward Olivia Draguicevich, earning her first goal of the season. A well-placed corner kick from sophomore midfielder Kyle Nolen in the 27th minute was met at the head of Draguicevich, who found the net at high right, giving the Lady Demons a 1-0 lead.

“I’m really proud of the effort tonight, and I’m proud for them as well,” head coach Stuart Gore said. “(Even though) we’ve had clean sheets the last two matches, we’ve been missing the opportunity to score, and we finally broke that tonight. We get a great corner from Kyle, Olivia puts a head on it and now we’ve got the ball rolling.”

Nolen had one shot on the evening to compliment her assist to Draguicevich. Nolen has seemingly found a niche as the Lady Demons’ go-to for corner kicks following Friday’s victory and a would-be goal off her own foot against No. 23 Rice, which was ultimately called back due to penalty.

Nolen is currently NSU’s leading offensive player on the season, currently touting two goals and Friday’s assist, along with six shots, and four on-goal.

Draguicevich’s goal and the resulting victory for NSU was a breath of fresh air for a team who has been progressively building toward its first win of the season.

“It feels really good (getting the score),” Draguicevich said. “I haven’t scored all season, but I’m really proud of how the team has progressed and how we’ve just gotten more comfortable in our formations.

“Earning the first win of the season feels really good. I know the team is really hyped about it.”

Following the opening period, Gore spoke of the team’s need to stand resilient in the face of what surely was going to be an aggressive effort by the Lady Lions to open the second half of play – an assurance which SLU delivered upon.

The Lady Lions opened up an assault on NSU to start the second period and never let up. After a relatively quiet first period, SLU took 13 total shot attempts, three of which demanded the attention of Southland goalkeeper of the year Acelya Aydogmus.

Aydogmus, logging her 17th career shutout Friday against the Lady Lions, now sits two behind the Lady Demons’ all-time leader (Tiffany Swingler, 1998-01).

A pair of shot sequences in the second half brought NSU to the brink of a tied match late in the contest. The first of which was a trio of shots in the 74th minute deep inside the box, which was ultimately thwarted by Aydogmus.

The second came in the 82nd minute, in which SLU’s Mya Guillory and Maycie Massingill both took shots at the NSU net, which were both blocked from outside.

Guillory ended the evening with four total shot attempts, and one on goal.

“I thought in the first half we were definitely the better team, but SLU came out in the second and held the advantage,” Gore said. (Southeastern is) a good team that we’ll be seeing again, and they’ll be ready for us.”

NSU logged five total shots on the evening, including Draguicevich’s score.

Northwestern State returns to action Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. to host Nicholls at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.

Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services