Armstrong, Draguicevich lead Northwestern State to dominant win over Nicholls

The Northwestern State women’s soccer team started the contest fast with an early goal and didn’t let up in a 5-0 victory over Nicholls in a Southland Conference game on Sunday afternoon at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.

Armstrong and Draguicevich each scored a pair of goals to lift NSU to the dominant victory, the fifth game of the season in which the team has scored at least four goals.

The win moved the Lady Demons to second place in the conference standings with three games to play.

“It was difficult coming off the Friday game,” NSU women’s soccer coach Stuart Gore said. “Getting the win over top team in the conference. You use a lot of energy in that Friday game, so getting the first goal early today settled us down a bit.”

Gracie Armstrong, fresh off her two-goal performance in the big victory over league-leading Lamar, didn’t waste much time finding the scoreboard Sunday, scoring a goal in the second minute off assists from Olivia Draguicevich and Hallie Field.

The goal came just 1:26 into the contest, which was the fastest tally for NSU (7-3-3 overall, 4-2-2 SLC) since Jayden Wheeler found the back of the net 59 seconds into an SLC Tournament win over Sam Houston State in 2019 and the fourth-fastest since 2011.

Armstrong tacked on another in the 15th minute off an assist from Natalee Henry and another from Draguicevich. On the goal, Henry passed it to Draguicevich, who sent in a perfect cross in the middle of the box to Armstrong, who had to just tap it into the open net to make it 2-0.

“I think my goals have come from just being at the right place at the right time,” Armstrong said. “We’ve really worked on crosses the past few weeks and I think the team just put together two full-time performances this weekend.”

Taylor Spitzer joined the scoring party in the 35th minute, receiving a cross from Nicole Henry. The ball was deflected but found its way to Spitzer, who sent it home to the right side of the goal. It gave NSU a 3-0 lead at the half.

Northwestern State dominated possession in the match and could have had an even larger lead in the first half. Paige Armstrong nearly found the scoring column in the 25th minute, but her shot on a look from the right side of the box sailed wide right of the net.

NSU out-shot Nicholls 10-1 in the first half and 18-1 for the game, led by Draguicevich’s three shots.

In the first half, Draguicevich had assists on both of Gracie Armstrong’s goals, so Armstrong returned the favor in the second.

Armstrong crossed a ball into Draguicevich, who headed it to the back of the net in the top right of the goal in the 61st minute. Draguicevich added her second goal on a penalty kick in the 74th minute to round out the scoring.

“We started the game off super strong with two goals by Gracie,” Draguicevich said. “Going into the second half, we just wanted to push harder on the gas pedal and I think we did that.”

With her two tallies, Draguicevich improved her career total to 33, just two behind Britiany Cargill for the top total in program history. She also became just the third player in NSU history to reach 70 total points, now at 73.

“I think Stu (Gore) was saying for me to take the penalty kick, but I also wanted to take it real bad” Draguicevich said laughing.

Twenty-three players entered the game for Northwestern State, as Gore emptied the bench to give everyone playing time, 22 of them playing at least 10 minutes.

NSU finishes its mini two-game home stand with a visit from Texas A&M-Commerce on Oct. 16 before hitting the road for a pair of games.

PHOTO: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services