Northwestern State starts slow, finishes strong in home opener against Nicholls

NATCHITOCHES — The Northwestern State soccer team wore out the south end of the Lady Demon Soccer Complex during the final 45 minutes of Friday night’s match against Nicholls. After a scoreless and frantic first half, NSU rounded into from and swarmed the Colonels in the second half en route to a 2-0 victory.

“Ultimately, we wanted to put them under a lot of pressure in that second half, and really dig in and play more how we wanted to play,” said co-head coach Jess Jobe. “We made some good adjustments at halftime, but more so at halftime, it wasn’t about wanting to dig into the players, but it was more about instilling some confidence and kind of settle them down a little bit.”

The proof is pretty obvious. NSU peppered Nicholls goaltender Reagan Carter with 15 shots in the second half after just three shots in the first half.

“We didn’t have anything set in stone, we just needed to get into our own rhythm,” sophomore Olivia Draguicevich said. “We were playing really direct in the beginning, and that’s not what we do. We like to use our space, and just taking that and getting some energy into us let us come out strong in the second half.”

Draguicevich was a large proponent of that strong second half. She recorded four shots — all in the second half — and the first one, in the 54th minute, found the back of the net.

Junior Kalee Williams provided the initial pressure and the first shot. The scrum that ensued resulted in a loose ball finding the feet of Draguicevich, which she redirected into the goal.

It was Draguicevich’s second goal of the 2021 season. And she had a hand in the second score of Friday night, as well.

Freshman Cianne Talamo put the finishing touches on the victory with a goal in the 88th minute off an assist from Draguicevich. It represented the first career goal of Talamo’s career.

Those pair of scores were more than enough with the help of another stout defensive performance. Junior goaltender Acelya Aydogmus only had to make one save to record her fourth consecutive shutout.

Friday night’s match marked the first such one at home for NSU in 481 days. And while it felt good to be home for everyone donning purple and white, that long hiatus could have been counterproductive.

“We played a team that brought in a lot of emotion, and I think we let the emotion of the game get the better of us,” Jobe said. “We had some nerves and frantic nature of our play, and we were not as confident on the ball. We were not making use of the time and space in some really good areas.”

But Jobe said that will serve as a learning experience, and one that can be applied Sunday when NSU returns to the pitch. Northwestern State — which improved to 5-0 on the season and 3-0 in Southland Conference play — will take on Southeastern Louisiana at 1 p.m.

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Photo Cutline: Cianne Talamo scored her first career goal Friday night against Nicholls.

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