Brophy earns first Northwestern State win over Alabama A&M on Spitzer’s penalty kick goal

Nobody said winning was easy. 

Behind a late penalty kick goal from Taylor Spitzer, the Northwestern State soccer team seized victory for the first time on the young season with a 1-0 victory Sunday evening against Alabama A&M, earning head coach Ian Brophy his first career win at the program. 

“It feels great to pick up victory No. 1 at Northwestern State,” Brophy said. “We’re hoping to take this momentum with us and get rolling. I am really happy to have that first win on the board and get that monkey off our back.” 

Spitzer, a sophomore, scored on a penalty kick in the 66th minute to grab the lead NSU would not relinquish. She scored going bottom right of the goal, past a diving goalkeeper Madalynn Tanksley. 

“I knew when I placed that ball down it was going bottom right,” Spitzer said. “I just had to place it and hit it hard and hope the keeper doesn’t guess to that side.” 

The penalty kick was drawn by freshman Emily Gundin, who earned her first career start and made the most of it. Gundin was fouled when she was sandwiched and taken down in the box. 

“I would have let Emily have it since she earned us the penalty kick,” Spitzer said. “She made a great run in the box, but she let me have it and I said I was going to put the ball in the back of the net. You have to have that confidence.” 

Spitzer attempted four of NSU’s season-high 18 shot attempts. Three Lady Demons had at least four shot attempts, led by Senatore, who posted six shot attempts off the bench after taking one in the first four contests. 

Sabrina Lopez, making the first start of her NSU career also recorded four shot attempts. 

Spitzer had an opportunity for her first collegiate two-goal game, as she received a perfect cross from Caitlin Le Roux, but Spitzer’s header hit the crossbar and bounced down and was cleared by the defense. 

NSU had several chances in the box, including hitting the crossbar and others that sailed just high of it. 

“It can get a little frustrating when we attempt a number of shots, but many of them were not on goal,” Brophy said. “I think we have been a little bit unlucky as well. I think we hit our sixth or seventh post of the season tonight, so that is something we want to improve upon and see those dropping into the goal.” 

Perhaps NSU’s top chance prior to the goal was off the foot of Senatore. The freshman received a perfect cross from fellow freshman Riley Stern, but her shot from the box sailed just high of the crossbar. 

The two freshmen Emilys combined for seven shot attempts, creating several chances to put NSU in front earlier than it did. 

“It was a great performance by two freshmen, both Emily Senatore and Emily Gundin,” Brophy said. “Add Emily Mougia and I think all the Emilys had great games tonight. I was really happy to see the two freshmen come in at home and play really well. I think both just have to work on finishing those chances because they created some really good ones.” 

The Lady Demons controlled possession in the first half, attempting six shots to Alabama A&M’s none. 

NSU’s defense put forth its best showing of the season, holding Alabama A&M to three shot attempts, all three of which came in the final 24 minutes of the game after NSU took the lead. 

“We’ve been breaking down on defense a little bit,” Mougia said. “Now we’re fully working together as a team defensively and we are fully connected to limit opponents’ shot attempts like we did tonight. 

When NSU goalkeeper Libe Banuelos was tested, she was up to the task, stopping two shots, earning her first shutout with the Lady Demons and first overall since Sept. 10, 2021, against Sam Houston State while with Louisiana Tech. 

“We really needed this game,” Spitzer said. “We were feeling kind of down at 0-4, but this is a game that will really build our confidence. We needed that first win and next game against Jackson State will be another good one and we’re going to bring it and hopefully earn another win.” 

NSU is back in action Friday at Jackson State before rounding out non-conference play at LSU on Sunday. The Lady Demons are next in Natchitoches on Sept. 17 when they host UIW to begin the league slate.