CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The top seeded Cardinals got all they could handle from the No. 4 Central Arkansas Bears, but prevailed in another one-goal victory in tonight’s semifinal, earning a 2-1 win and a spot in Sunday’s championship game against No. 2 Stephen F. Austin.
Chances were at a premium for both sides in the opening stages, with quality scoring opportunities few and far between. Freshman Madison Ledet produced Lamar’s first chance of the game in the 11th minute, making her way into the box and getting ahold of a well-struck shot that was blocked by the UCA defense.
As the first half wore on, Lamar spent the lion’s share of time in the offensive third, but as the clock approached 10 minutes to play, the two sides still only combined for three total shots. The Cardinals did hold a healthy advantage on forcing corner kicks, but despite a number of well-executed set pieces, none came to fruition.
With 9:40 to go in the first half, senior Samantha Moreno was brought down from behind in the box and LU was awarded a penalty kick, which M.J. Eckart calmly fired into the right corner for a 1-0 Cardinal lead. (Highlight)
The Bears got their best chance on a corner kick with 3:30 to play in the half, with senior defender Stacia Carroll flying over the Lamar defense but rocketing her header just over the crossbar.
The Cardinals held fast to their 1-0 lead into halftime, at which point both teams were tied with four shots and one on goal apiece, with Eckart’s PK goal being the lone separator.
Lamar wasted no time doubling the lead in the second half, slotting home the brace less than two minutes in. Ledet worked her way into the right side of the 18-yard box, and sent her low shot past goalkeeper Anna Hughes and inside the far post.
While Central Arkansas struggled to make their way through space in Lamar’s defensive third, it was on a set piece that the Bears pulled one back with 30:54 to play. Junior Camille Bassett got a foot to the corner kick from Autum Schwartz right at the mouth of the goal to make it a 2-1 game.
As the Bears hunted for an equalizer and Lamar for an insurance goal, neither side was able to break through. As the game clock wound to single digits, UCA held a slight 7-6 edge on shots but were unable to get more than one to the goal after their first score.
The Cardinals milked the clock through the final minutes to edge another one-goal victory in the tournament, taking the 2-1 semifinal win to secure a spot in the championship.
Lamar (17-3-1) moves on to face No. 2 Stephen F. Austin in the championship game. This will be the first 1-2 seed matchup in the Southland Conference Tournament championship since 2012, where No. 1 SFA and No. 2 Lamar met and the Ladyjacks came out on top 2-1.
The title matchup kicks off at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday and will be an exclusive presentation of ESPN3, available via watchespn.com and the ESPN app.