By Aaron Ferguson, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
The Northwestern State soccer team returns home from its final road match of the season as undisputed champions of the Southland Conference regular season for the first time since 2000.
NSU secured the title – a first-round bye, and the first seed of the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament — following a 1-0 overtime golden goal against Houston Baptist from the league’s leading scorer Olivia Draguicevich.
“The team was fantastic through the whole ordeal today, and I couldn’t be happier,” head coach Stuart Gore said. “We stuck to our game plan, were knocking on the door all game long, and (Olivia) only needs one opportunity.”
The goal came as a result of a corner kick assist from sophomore midfielders Kyle Nolen and Delaney Wells, which was hunted down in the net by Draguicevich and dropped in at low-left, earning the 12th game-winning goal of her career and tying the all-time record.
After going scoreless through regulation, NSU entered extra time with fervorous intent, sending four shots at HBU’s Karla Ramirez though the first three minutes, two of which required a save from Ramirez. Draguicevich would get one more shot attempt in, before the set piece in which she scored.
Entering the match, Draguicevich was tied for 8th nationally in game-winning goals, and 23rd in the nation in total goals scored.
Wednesday’s 1-0 shutout for the current Southland Goalkeeper of the Year Acelya Aydogmus represented her tenth this year, breaking the single season record set by herself in the spring 2020 season just six months prior. A two-save day for Aydogmus against Houston Baptist (4-13-1, 4-8 SLC) allowed NSU (10-4-2, 10-1 SLC) to stay in front of a stiff HBU defense which had to fend off 26 shot attempts—seven of which were on frame.
Aydogmus entered Wednesday’s match tied for fourth in the nation in shutouts. Logging the 25th of her NSU career, Aydogmus extended her lead on the all-time record—a benchmark she surpassed at 20 on September 19th at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“This is a huge deal for all of us, and we’re all just really proud to be bringing this title home,” Gore said. “I’m so proud of our team and the staff members that have all played a part in us getting here.”
NSU returns home for Senior Day on Friday, as they welcome second place McNeese for its Southland Conference regular season finale and honor the Lady Demons’ 2021 senior class.
Photo: Courtesy of Northwestern State Athletics