On Senior Day, it was a senior and a freshman who pushed Northwestern State past Houston Christian 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex, punching its ticket to the Southland Conference Tournament for the sixth straight season.
NSU (6-10 overall, 4-5 SLC) received a goal from freshman Julia Pinho Magno in the 73rd minute to break a 1-1 deadlock and give the Lady Demons their second consecutive victory.
With the win, NSU clinched a berth in the conference tournament due to HCU (5-10, 3-6) playing UIW in its final game and NSU has a better record than both. The Lady Demons could finish anywhere from fourth place to eighth.
“It feels great to get a place in the playoffs,” first-year head coach Ian Brophy said. “It also feels great to get a win for the seniors. That is what we talked about pre-game, putting together a performance they would be proud of and we did. I was really proud of our performance today and the way we played overall.”
Magno made sure the seniors wouldn’t go home disappointed as a pair of freshmen hooked up on arguably NSU’s biggest goal of the season. After a foul, Alina Graf’s free kick was headed to Dawson Marrs, who eluded a defender and crossed it a few yards to Magno. The freshman booted it top right shelf to give the Lady Demons the lead and eventual win.
“As roommates, we’ve been trying to get a good connection on the field all season long,” Magno said. “It felt really good to connect on that goal.”
While the freshmen secured the win, the senior started the game off on the right foot for the home team. Halee Griffin, playing in front of the home crowd for the final time in her career, found the back of the net late in the first half for the second consecutive game to put NSU in front 1-0.
She received a cross from Emily Gundin in the box and directed it in on HCU goalkeeper Chloe Bagshaw. The Huskies keeper made the stop, but Griffin was there for the rebound and she sent it home.
“I think what has helped me score is just letting go,” Griffin said. “These last two games, I have just thought about all my time playing soccer and just thinking ‘hey, I might as well go out with a bang.’ I am really happy to have gotten a goal. It feels really good to help lead my team to victory.”
The Lady Demons attempted 15 shots, including nine in the first half, after attempting 22 in the victory last time out against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
NSU began the game with its hair on fire, attempting six shots in the first 16 minutes, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Taylor Spitzer attempted a game-high six and had a golden opportunity in the ninth minute. The sophomore’s first shot was blocked and her shot off the rebound trickled to the right post and NSU was held off the scoreboard.
At halftime, NSU led 1-0, just like it did in the meeting in Houston. Also, just like in Houston, the Huskies started the second half with a bang, scoring early in the half to knot the score.
Olivia Rossman showed fancy footwork on the equalizer, scored from the middle of the box in the 52nd minute, firing past a diving Libe Banuelos, who deflected the ball, but couldn’t get enough of it to keep it out of the goal in the left side of the goal.
Unlike in the previous meeting, NSU stemmed the HCU momentum and the Huskies were not able to take the lead, leaving the door open for Magno’s goal to win the game.
The Huskies last chance to tie the score came up empty when Alexa Huerta’s shot on a free kick sailed well over the crossbar in the final minute.
Huerta led the team with four shots. Emily Jaimes attempted three for the Huskies.
HCU attempted 10 of its 16 shots in the second half, but Banuelos came up with six big saves in the contest.
Griffin was the only Lady Demon to record more than one shot attempt (2) other than Spitzer’s six.
NSU concludes the regular season with a trip to see in-state rival Nicholls, aiming to finish the season with three straight wins and earn a four seed in the SLC Tournament.