CONWAY, Arkansas — The Northwestern State soccer team let a bevy of emotions loose Friday during its match at Central Arkansas. While confidence and jubilation were felt — and rightfully so after a 2-0 road victory — one emotion was felt more than others.
“If I’m being honest, a lot of the team and coaching staff felt a sense of relief,” co-head coach Jess Jobe said. “We came here with some things in mind, one of those things was to win the game, and to do that you have to score. So to see that drop for us early was really important for us.”
The win caps the Lady Demons’ regular season at 9-3-1 overall and 7-3-1 in Southland Conference play. The loss drops the Bears to 12-9-2 overall and 3-7-1 in league action.
NSU will await a couple other results before knowing its seed ahead of the conference tournament. It can earn anything from the No. 1 to the No. 4 seed.
NSU halted its scoreless drought Friday, which had persisted for two games, and sophomore Olivia Draguicevich was the responsible party. In both cases, in fact.
She scored her fourth goal of the season off a feed from junior Jalen Donaldson in the ninth minute. That early advantage had significant reverberations across the roster.
“It definitely boosted our confidence,” junior goaltender Acelya Aydogmus said. “We definitely needed that, and it definitely instilled in us some confidence to finish the game.”
Draguicevich’s fifth score of the season occurred off a feed from junior Kalee Williams. That put the finishing touches on the victory in the 88th minute.
Aydogmus made those pair of goals stand up, and the Bears kept her busy. Central Arkansas fired seven shots — compared to NSU’s two — and three of them needed Aydogmus’ assistance.
The three saves resulted in Aydogmus’ eighth shutout of the season. That represents a new single-season school record.
“It’s pretty special,” Jobe said. “I think the first thing Ace would do is recognize some teammates for making some big efforts in front of her. She’s been steady, and she’s been stable. She’s been reliable for us all season long, and she had to come up in some big moments for us today.”
It’s actually Aydogmus’ second such school record this season. She also owns a six-match shutout streak from earlier this year.
Those accolades indicate something else. And it’s something that Northwestern State will utilize going into its Southland Conference quarterfinal match Tuesday.
“It’s another reminder of how good we are,” Jobe said. “We are really good. We are a really, really good soccer team, and we’ve got some big goals that come into play next week. We’ve had these dates circled on the calendar. We’ve known for quite awhile that we are going but now we get to finally turn that corner.”
The Southland Conference tournament is comprised of the top eight teams in the final standings. It will take place at Lamar.
Photo Cutline: Olivia Draguicevich netted two goals in NSU’s 2-0 victory at Central Arkansas.
Photo Credit: Chris Reich / NSU Photographic Services