Hallie Field’s early goal and Northwestern State’s trademark stingy defense proved to be the difference, as it downed Texas A&M-Commerce 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.
In NSU’s last game against Nicholls, Gracie Armstrong scored in the second minute to start the team off on the right foot. The Lady Demons just had to wait a minute longer to dent the scoreboard against TAMUC, as Field put home a shot in the third minute to put NSU in front.
The defense did the rest, as Northwestern State recorded its third consecutive shutout.
“It was a battle from beginning to end,” NSU women’s soccer coach Stuart Gore said. “It’s always going to be that way against them. They are a really tough team. They are super blue collar and work super hard. We were able to match that and get ourselves over the line.”
NSU (8-3-3 overall, 5-2-2 Southland Conference) remained in second place and knocked TAMUC (4-8-2, 4-4-1) down to fourth place after Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Houston Christian won Sunday.
Field started the game out with a bang, finding the back of the net just 2:46 into the match, the eighth fastest goal since 2011.
She found a spot in the middle of the box and Armstrong found her with the pass and Field put it home into the bottom left corner of the goal for her career-high second goal of the season.
“On the goal, I saw Gracie around that corner and I just tried to get open for her and give her an option,” Field said. “And when I got the ball, I was able to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Fields attempted a game-high four shots out of the 12 attempted by NSU.
The Lions wasted little time trying to tie the score, but Chloe DeShazer came through in a big way for NSU. The reigning SLC Goalkeeper of the Week made an impressive diving stop on a shot by Karalie Morrison from in the box.
Morrison received a cross in the box from toward the sideline and whipped around and fired in a right-footed shot that DeShazer dove to her right to knock away the shot. Nicole Henry was there to collect the rebound and boot the ball out of harm’s way.
“Having a shutout against this team means a bit more against an offense like this,” DeShazer said. “I faced a pretty big shot at the beginning of the game, so it was nice to get that out of the way. Kudos to my defense for not allowing much, holding their own and being strong back there.”
With NSU in front 1-0 at halftime, TAMUC turned up the pressure in the second half, much like in the first meeting. The Lions attempted three of their five shots in the final 45 minutes after NSU out-shot the visitors 8-2 in the first.
The defense for the home team never relented, though, as it held TAMUC off the scoreboard and kept Mya Mitchell, the leading scorer in the conference in SLC games, without a shot until the final minute of the game.
“If you have someone like Mya, who is red hot, you have to give her the respect she deserves. Overall, I thought we did well against her.”
It is just the second time in nine contests that Mitchell was held without a goal.
NSU hits the road for a pair this week, beginning with a trip to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday for its only match with the Islanders, before finishing the road slate with a visit to UIW on Oct. 23. The team returns home for a date with Southeastern Louisiana to finish the regular season on Oct. 28.
Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services