A-State soccer loses for the first time this season in 2-1 defeat to Central Arkansas

Photo by: Morgan Blankenship | Staff Photographer: Rachel Kutella battles with UCA’s Emma Hawkins in A-State’s 2-1 loss to Central Arkansas.

The Arkansas State soccer team lost for the first time this season, 2-1 to in-state foe Central Arkansas in an end-to-end game Sunday afternoon, after going eight games unbeaten. 

The Red Wolves, 7-1-1 overall and 6-0-1 in the Sun Belt Conference, fell in overtime after Haley Husted conceded a penalty kick by fouling UCA’s Laurel Landry just barely inside the box in the 93rd minute of the match. 

UCA’s Emma Hawkins stepped up to the spot and completed her brace with a powerfully taken penalty to Megan McClure’s right as the golden goal ended A-State’s undefeated season. 

“You’re disappointed with the result, you get that, but you don’t want to create a scenario where you have kids feeling that maybe their performance was the reason why,” A-State head coach Brian Dooley said. “We win as a team and lose as a team. I think we took our foot off the gas. We had opportunities to break the game open a bit and we got a little sloppy in certain areas that cost us.”

Dooley said there could be a very important lesson that comes from A-State’s loss to UCA: training affects your results. 

A-State has played three overtime games in a row and the Red Wolves won the first match 1-0, tied the second game 0-0 and lost to UCA 2-1. The results show a downward trend while approaching the conference tournament and the team has to address those things, Dooley said.

“When your preparation maybe isn’t as tight and your training habits aren’t quite where they need to be to maintain the standard we expect, a team can come in and get a victory over you,” Dooley said. “Hopefully that will allow us to bring our level of training up a little bit and keep the intensity, keep the fun, keep the energy in training because that’s what you bring in a game.”

Dooley told his team after the game the loss marked the first defeat for A-State’s freshmen in a Red Wolf jersey.

A-State led most of the match, but Hawkins equalized for the Bears in the 87th minute after a great piece of play to get past A-State’s Lauren Shah at right back, then cut in on her right foot and curled a beautiful finish past Noel Miller in the Red Wolves’ goal. 

Miller was at full stretch. The sophomore keeper told her coach after the game she was initially screened on the shot by Hawkins and did not see the ball until it was a little too late.

Coming into the match, A-State had only allowed one goal all season but Hawkins and her teammate Sydney Brough used their pace and skill throughout the game to give A-State’s backline some trouble. 

“I think (UCA) had some good pace up top,” Dooley said. “I thought we did a good job overall in limiting them. Maybe our gaps in the midfield were a little bit bigger than they needed to be which allowed them to find a little bit of rhythm here and there. I wouldn’t blame any one position for the goals.”

Being senior day and a non conference game, Dooley rotated his squad more throughout the match. Miller, a sophomore goalkeeper, played the entire second half instead of Megan McClure, while other Red Wolves came in and out of the game with frequency. 

A-State’s pretty consistent lineup from throughout the season was changed heavily throughout the game and Dooley pointed out this might be something the coaching staff needs to evaluate for future matches. 

“It was kind of a unique and different game,” Dooley said. “Being senior recognition day, we started all our seniors, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s different than what we’ve been doing so it kind of created a little bit of a different rhythm to our substitution pattern. It created a lot of differences in the game that we haven’t done to this point.”

One bright spot in the match for A-State was Maggie Ertl. On senior day, the senior from Oklahoma scored the Red Wolves’ lone goal in the match and looked very comfortable in her hold up play and distribution. 

“I thought Maggie brought us a nice little energy,” Dooley said. “That’s kind of the performance that Maggie’s given us in the past. She’s throwing her body around, she’s creating opportunities, the hold up play is pretty good. I think she showed that she can come on and make a difference for us. It was certainly her best performance of the year for us.”

Ertl’s goal came in the 14th minute in a goalmouth scramble. Sarah Sodoma whipped in an in-swinging corner kick that bounced around in and out of the box before being sent in again. In a mass of purple and white jerseys, Ertl found the ball at her feet and slid a calm finish in between Reagan McCombs’ legs in UCA’s goal. 

“I kind of blacked out and Olivia (Smith) said she did too,” Ertl said. “Basically Olivia got it out of her feet, turned shot it, hit somebody, turned shot it, hit the goalie and it was about to get cleared out and it just popped out perfectly to me and I shot it and I megged the goalie. It was just a great finish to that.”

The goal marked Ertl’s first of the season. 

“It was just so exciting being with all my best friends on the field,” Ertl said. “It’s just the best feeling, all the adrenaline and all my friends coming to hug me.”

Ertl said after the match Julianna Coates was one of the first players off the field telling the team to keep its head up as part of that strong group of seniors leading the team forward. 

“Going into our next conference game, I think it was almost just a good thing to get some fire under our butts a little bit,” Ertl said.

A-State has already clinched a No.1 seed in the SBC tournament after winning the Western Division title with a draw against Little Rock Oct. 15. The Red Wolves host Louisiana Oct. 25 to close out the regular season. Kick off from Jonesboro is set for noon.

Categories: Sports

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