BATON ROUGE, La. – Monday was a day of firsts for the Lamar University women’s soccer team as they claimed a 3-0 victory over host Southern University in a non-conference game.
It was the first win of the season for the Cardinals (1-5-0) as well as the first career victory and shutout for LU freshman goalkeeper Rachel Gries, who made six saves to register the first-ever shutout as Southern’s brand new Jaguar Park. It was also the first win at LU for veteran coach Steve Holeman. In addition, the 8:30 a.m. kickoff was the earliest ever starting time in the 10-year history of the LU women’s soccer program.
“It feels great to get that first win, obviously,” Holeman said. “I’m happy for the players. They needed this.”
Monday’s contest was makeup of Sunday’s contest was stopped because of lightning less than 20 minutes into the contest with LU holding a 3-0 lead. Those stats were all wiped out, and the teams started anew.
The Cardinals struggled for much of the first half against a Southern squad that was playing with a renewed determination. Southern outshot LU 6-4 in the first half and held a 5-3 edge in shots on goal over the first 45 minutes. Despite being outshot in the first half, the Cardinals held a 1-0 lead at intermission as M.J. Eckart scored on a header off of a corner kick by Samantha Moreno with 21:21 remaining in the first half.
“Give Southern credit, they outworked us in the first half,” Holeman said. “M.J. scored a beautiful goal for us to give us the lead. Having that lead at halftime was big.”
The cardinals dominated the second half, outshooting the Jaguars 16-2. Eckart scored her second of the game and fourth or the season when she deflected Marie Lund’s shot past Southern goalkeeper Victoria Mendes a little less than 20 minutes into the second half to increase LU’s lead to 2-0. Jennifer Yacuta also picked up an assist on the play.
Moreno closed out the scoring with 6:28 remaining as she converted a pass from Yacuta to make it 3-0.
After that, the Cardinals and Gries held on for the shutout as LU improved to 4-0 all-time against Southern and 16-1-1 all-time against members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“It’s nice to get that first shutout,” Gries said. “The defense did a great job today.”
With her two goals, Eckart moved into a tie with Lorna Maudslay for eighth on the all-time LU career list with nine goals. She moved into 10th place on the all-time LU points list with 19.
Mendes made nine saves for Southern (0-3-0).
“We’ve talked all season about we need to play better in the second half. That’s what we dId today,” Holeman said. “We have struggled in the second half all season, but we turned that round today.”
LU continues its five-game road swing at 4 p.m. Friday with a non-conference contest at Southern Mississippi. LU opens Southland Conference play with a game at Nicholls at 4 p.m. Sept. 16 before closing out the non-conference portion of the schedule by returning to Baton Rouge to take on LSU at 1 p.m. Sept. 18.
The next home game is 7 p.m. Sept. 23 against Northwestern State at the LU Soccer Complex.
(© 2016 KBMT)