Northwestern State heads to Corpus Christi to begin final road trip of season

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas—With the Southland Conference Tournament just two weeks away, the Northwestern State women’s soccer is playing its best soccer of the season.

NSU (8-3-3 overall, 5-2-2 SLC) heads on the road for its final road trip of the season, beginning with a visit to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Dr. Jack Dugan Soccer and Track & Field Stadium. It will be streamed on ESPN+.

The Lady Demons, second in the conference behind Lamar, are holding a slim one-point lead on third place over both TAMUC (8-5-1, 5-3-1) and Houston Christian with three matches to play before the conference tournament.

It is the only meeting between the two schools this season. NSU is 6-3-1 all-time against the Islanders and has won the previous two meetings, including three consecutive shutouts. In their trip to Corpus Christi last season, Olivia Draguicevich scored a school record-tying four goals in a 4-0 win.

NSU won both meetings in 2021 against TAMUCC, out-scoring the Islanders 6-0 with Draguicevich tallying five of them.

Draguicevich’s five career goals against Islanders are the second-most she has scored against any team, trailing only the six she has recorded against Nicholls. Her 33 goals are the second-most in school history, two behind Britiany Cargill’s 35.

“Olivia wants to score goals,” NSU women’s soccer coach Stuart Gore said. “Now having Gracie up top as well with her, having to focus on the both of them is very hard to do.”

She is one of three NSU players who has recorded double-digit points, as Draguicevich is joined by Gracie Armstrong (13 points) and Taylor Spitzer (10).

NSU is putting shots up at a conference-leading 15.6 shots per game rate. Its 108 shots on goal also lead the conference.

“It is important to get shots on the net,” Sam Hanking said. “I think as a team we crash the box really well and we finish our chances in the box the best that we can.”

NSU’s defense has been its calling card for years and when the offense doesn’t produce a number of goals in a game, the defense has showed it still can come through. The unit has held opponents to zero goals on just 10 shots in its past three games, three victories.

Chloe DeShazer is second in the SLC in both goals against average (.643) and save percentage (.780). Her six shutouts are also tied for the most in the conference.

While NSU’s defense has been lights out, the TAMUCC offense has been just as good. The Islanders lead the conference in both goals overall (33) and goals in conference action (17).

Five Islanders players have reached double figures in points. Morgan Westbury and Megan Guy each are in the top five in goals with seven each. Westbury has 16 points and Guy has 15, each rank in the top six in the league in points. Six of Guy’s goals have come in conference play.

“It will be a little of a different look since they have so many capable scorers,” Hallie Field said. “But I trust all of our defenders and all of our players across the board to do their best to limit every single player for them.”

The offense is coming off a four-goal performance in a shutout of Nicholls this past week. TAMUCC has used a two-goalkeeper system in many conference games, but Kennedy Stelling played all 90 minutes in the victory against the Colonels. Zoe Theriot is the other keeper used, playing in one half in five of the Islanders conference games.

“They’re a good goal-scoring team,” Gore said. “It will be another tough battle where one or three points can quickly move you up or down the standings if you don’t earn those points. You can jump all over the place in the standings right now.”

Following the game, NSU wraps up the road portion of the schedule with a trip to UIW on Sunday before finishing the regular season with a home game against in-state rival Southeastern Louisiana on Oct. 28.

Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services