NATCHITOCHES — The Southland Conference announced its 2021 women’s soccer schedule Wednesday. Thus, the Northwestern State women’s soccer team knows its slate for the upcoming spring.
The Lady Demons’ conference season will begin Feb. 12. They will play 11 conference games with five of those being held at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.
“We are very pleased to be looking at a full 11-game league schedule,” said co-head coach Jess Jobe. “Feb. 12 will be marked on the calendar. We will be talking about that at practices, and we’ll be wrapping up this fall with that in mind.”
NSU opens with three straight on the road, a season after going 5-4-1 away from home with 23 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. It travels to Sam Houston State on Feb. 12 before road matches at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Houston Baptist on Feb. 19 and 21, respectively.
The Lady Demons host Nicholls in their home opener Feb. 26. That kicks off a home stretch that will include games against Southeastern Louisiana on Feb. 28 and Stephen F. Austin on March 12. NSU boasted a 6-3-0 record at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex in 2019.
Three of NSU’s final five are away from Natchitoches. The Lady Demons travel to Lamar — last season’s regular-season and conference tournament champion — March 19.
NSU was the lone conference member to knock off the Cardinals during the 2019 regular season, downing them 2-1 in Natchitoches. However, Lamar exacted its revenge in the Southland Conference Championship, besting the Lady Demons, 3-1.
“That’s a rivalry we really enjoy,” Jobe said. “We were disappointed at the end of the year, but we thought Lamar was a deserving champion. They played really well in that final game, and we wanted to win. At the end of the day, we have a lot of respect for that program and coaching staff. This year, we want to have a little redemption on that final day and get another opportunity to get a W.”
NSU finishes that road weekend at McNeese State on March 21 before hosting Abilene Christian on April 1 and Incarnate Word on April 3. The Lady Demons will wrap up the regular season April 9 at Central Arkansas.
The Southland Conference Tournament — which will encompass the top four in the final team standings instead of the usual eight — takes place April 15-17 at the site of the No. 1 seed. The NCAA Tournament selection show will be held April 18, while the tournament will run from April 23-May 15.
The NCAA announced that its postseason tournament brackets, for fall sports being contested in the spring, will be reduced. Brackets will be filled at 75 percent of their normal capacities.
The NCAA has allowed teams to schedule non-conference games starting Feb. 3. Jobe and his staff are working on a non-conference slate that will challenge the Lady Demons ahead of conference play.
“A lot of our success last year came from a very challenging non-conference schedule and getting some momentum at the right time,” Jobe said. “It will be really important to schedule not just non-conference opponents, but some that are really going to test us and really going to push us.”
The Lady Demons are coming off a 2019 fall season in which they finished 13-8-1 overall and 8-2-1 in conference play. NSU finished the regular season on a four-game win streak. Couple that with its deep run in the conference tournament, and the Lady Demons will enter the 2021 season having won six of its final seven matches.
The schedule remains tentative and subject to change based on numerous factors, including health conditions in each of the communities, as institutions continue follow specific guidelines from the NCAA as well as local and university medical authorities.
Fans are encouraged to visit nsudemons.com, download the NSU Athletics mobile app via the Apple App Store or Google Play, or follow @NSUDemonsSoc on Twitter for the latest information.