The Arkansas State soccer team jumped out to its best start in program history with a dominant 2-0 win over Texas State Sunday afternoon.
The Red Wolves improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Sun Belt Conference with the win over the Bobcats and put the game away 2-0 in the 56th minute by way of a Sarah Sodoma goal.
With her back to goal, Abigail Glockzin laid the ball off to Hailey Furio at center attacking mid who then sprung a beautifully weighted over the top through ball for Sodoma to run onto. Sodoma rounded the keeper and completed the move with a tidy finish.
“I thought we did really good,” Glockzin said about the combination between the midfield and forwards. “Usually that’s one of my rough things is passing the ball back right there but this time I did it, it’s kind of exciting. Since this is one of my first two games back from being sick it felt real good to get back in the groove of everything.”
Glockzin looked very confident in her hold up role up top and constantly played quick combinations with the midfielders around her while shielding the ball from Texas State defenders. Glockzin looked the most comfortable she has ever looked in an A-State shirt.
“That’s what we’ve seen with Abby, even in the recruiting process,” Dooley said. “In the beginning of last year she was in our starting 11. What happens sometimes with some freshman is they get a little bit overwhelmed with things. She didn’t expect to come in and start and we were like, ‘what do you mean, you’re a good player?'”
Although Glockzin had a few bumps and bruises going into the season, she’s getting back into form.
“She’s always around the goal,” Dooley said. “Every time she’s been on the field she’s had a chance to score. I think that once she feels a little bit more comfortable she’ll be able to get us a goal. She sees the game really well. She’s a really good one touch player.”
A-State took a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute when freshman center back Hailey Cloud took a clinically placed free kick from just outside the box and fired the ball into the bottom left corner of Texas State’s goal.
Sodoma won the free kick on the right side of the box but Cloud was A-State’s set piece maestro on the day.
“It’s just kind of in the moment,” Cloud said about deciding who takes the free kicks. “There’s a group of like five of us. We just all look over at the coaches and whoever calls it or whoever the coaches point at takes it. Usually if it’s on the right side I’m left footed so I usually try to bend it in. If it’s on that side it’s really me or Sarah.”
Cloud said the only thing going through her mind when she stepped up to the free kick was just placement. If she could not put it in, she wanted to make sure her teammates could get a chance at a rebound.
The strike marked Cloud’s first collegiate goal.
“I was really happy,” Cloud said. “I knew before the game I could feel something that I’m going to get a goal today. It’s either going to be on a corner, free kick, something. I knew once I hit the ball, ‘oh this is going in.'”
Not only did Cloud contribute offensively, but once again A-State’s young backline of Lauren Shah, Rachel Kutella, Cloud and today with the experience of Olivia Smith sprinkled in at the start, put on a masterful defensive performance.
“I just feel like we’re like that because we just trust each other so much,” Cloud said. “We don’t really panic just because if we do panic something bad is going to happen so we just trust each other and get the job done.”
The 2-0 result marked A-State’s second consecutive clean sheet and the Red Wolves’ third clean sheet on the season.
Cloud is more of a natural outside back, but with Julianna Coates appearing in only a limited role so far this season, Cloud has adapted to center back.
Coates played her first minutes of the season against Texas State after injury problems and surgeries kept her out through the first three games of the year. Coates subbed in for Kutella in the second half as the senior showed her quality and added yet another great defender to the backline.
“She was very good, very good,” Dooley said. “It was really nice to see No. 21 back on the field.”
Dooley emphasized three of the defenders in the backline are freshmen playing significant minutes in a season like no other. He said nothing phases them.
“Rachel is a warrior,” Dooley said. “She’s fast, she’s a hard tackler, she’ll win the ball in the air and she’s good at cutting and distributing the ball. Lauren Shah is probably the biggest surprise of them all. She’s a pit bull out there.”
When Coates is not on the pitch, she’s coaching and organizing her teammates.
“She’s a brilliant soccer mind,” Dooley said.
Senior goalkeeper Megan McClure played with extreme confidence against the Bobcats. McClure punched crosses away multiple times, collected balls out of the air with ease, distributed the ball all across the pitch and had a great one-on-one stop.
“It’s very important,” Cloud said about having a keeper like McClure behind the backline. “I know some teams struggle with keepers who don’t want the ball at their feet because they know they’re not good enough. To have someone like that who is strong enough and wants the ball is amazing.”
In the 64th minute Texas State broke through A-State’s backline and McClure came off her line with speed and smothered the ball away from the Texas State attacker.
“That’s the vision I had of Megan four years ago when I saw her playing club ball,” Dooley said. “A dominant player in the box that when your team may not be at its best and she is at her best, she’s not going to give up a goal. There was really no threat. The only threat they had was that one breakaway that she just destroyed.”
McClure added to her record for career shutouts at A-State today and now has 14. She came into the season tied with Kelsey Ponder at 11 and broke the record in A-State’s win over UCA to kick off A-State’s campaign.
Haley Husted put in a great performance at Louisiana on Thursday, but Dooley said they needed to give her a break at the beginning of the match against Texas State due to the team over-doing it with Husted at Lafayette. Smith slotted in at left back before Husted was brought in later in the match against Texas State.
A-State hosts in-state foe Little Rock on Thursday. Kick off from the A-State Soccer Complex is set for 3 p.m.
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