Weather, TAMUC no match for Northwestern State in road victory

COMMERCE, Texas—Neither the Texas A&M-Commerce defense or Mother Nature could contain the Northwestern State offense.

The teams had to play the match over two days due to lightning delays on Sunday and when they finished Monday morning, NSU held on for a 4-1 road victory at the Lion Soccer Field.

A fast start, scoring two goals in the first 22 minutes, propelled NSU to its first victory since the conference opener, defeating the Southland Conference newcomer.

The Lady Demons moved into a tie with Southeastern Louisiana for third place in the league.

“It was a first-time experience and I think they handled it better than us,” NSU women’s soccer coach Stuart Gore, referring to the lightning delay. “But we got through a tough game because Commerce was definitely up for the fight the whole game. It was great to see Taylor (Spitzer) get a goal in her first game back from injury.”

After only finding the back of the net once in its first three league games, NSU (5-2-2 overall, 2-1-1 SLC) received early goals from Delaney Wells and Olivia Draguicevich to help end the two-match winless stretch and end the two-match road trip with four points.

Wells dented the scoreboard first in the 10th minute, scoring off a corner kick, her second goal of the season. Gracie Armstrong’s corner kick landed in the box at the foot of Wells, who booted it past TAMUC goalkeeper Gillian McKenzie in the lower right portion of the goal to open the scoring.

Draguicevich doubled the advantage in the 22nd minute, scoring from the right foot in the box off a cross from Jalen Donaldson. Her kick went just over the line before it could be stopped by McKenzie and NSU led 2-0 before the delay in the 28th minute.

The tally was her team-best seventh on the season and 31st career goal, which inches her closer to the all-time school record of 35, set by Britiany Cargill.

NSU had chances to push the lead even further in the first half, as Gracie Armstrong had two quality chances on her game-high seven shot attempts but could not quite find the back of the net.

The defense, which came into the game having given up just two goals in the three conference matches, slowed down a TAMUC (2-6-1, 2-2) offense that had tallied nine goals in its past four games.

After resuming, the Lions controlled the action, recording nine of the next 13 shots after NSU led 8-1 before the delay. TAMUC took that momentum and cut the deficit in half in the 53rd minute on a goal from the conference’s leading goal scorer, Mya Mitchell.

Mya Mitchell’s sister Nya Mitchell had a shot attempt that was off target less than a minute later, which would have tied the game.

But coming back near her hometown of Van Alstyne, Texas, Emme’ Fernandez calmed the team down and doubled the lead back with a tally in the 65th minute, going bottom left corner of the goal against TAMUC goalkeeper Gillian McKenzie.

Starting with Fernandez’s goal, the Northwestern State offense turned it up to another level, attempting 10 of the game’s final 12 shots to collect 22 shot attempts.

Taylor Spitzer put the finishing touches on the road victory with a goal in the final minute, going top right of the frame, to make it 4-1, off the assist from Donaldson, which was her second of the contest.

Donaldson’s 11 career assists puts her on the brink of cracking the top 10 for career assists, as she is one helper shy of a three-way tie for eighth place.

Northwestern State returns home when they welcome Houston Christian to Natchitoches on Friday before hitting the road once again to take on in-state rival McNeese on Oct. 2.

Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services