CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The top seeded Cardinals did not make it easy on themselves, but came out on top in their opening game of the 2017 Southland Conference Tournament with a 1-0 win over No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. While Lamar dominated every facet of the game, freshman Madison Ledet’s first-half goal proved to be the only time LU would find the back of the net in Wednesday’s nightcap matchup.
Both teams came out swinging, exchanging shots in the opening two minutes – one long-range from Brooke Erdmann saved by Lamar’s Lauren Lovejoy and a layoff shot from Lamar’s Samantha Moreno that went well high.
Cardinal junior and Newcomer of the Year Kelso Peskin put another strong shot on goal after swiftly weaving through the Islander defense, forcing a save from freshman keeper Kyleigh Hall.
A&M-Corpus Christi was not content just attempting to stop the LU attack, nearly grabbing the lead when sophomore Ashley Hamilton rattled another long shot off the crossbar.
Just under the 31-minute mark, Lamar’s Lucy Ashworth put a driven low shot past Hall which rattled back off the right post, nervously cleared by the Islander defense.
The Cardinals’ pressing paid off with 24:10 on the clock when Madison Ledet slotted home the assist from a long Peskin throw in for a 1-0 LU lead. Four minutes later, a speedy through ball to Peskin in the box nearly found a second goal for the Cardinals but ricocheted just off the right post.
Lamar began to dominate the offensive third with Peskin leading the charge, skimming her header just over the bar that could have easily tripled the lead with 12:30 to go in the first half.
The Islanders would hold off a flurry of scoring chances to preserve the 1-0 score line heading into the half.
Lamar outshot Corpus Christi 9-2 in opening period, placing three on goal. The Cardinals’ pace and quick, short passing game proved too much for the Islanders, who failed to hold consistent possession on either half of the field.
LU picked up right where it left off in the second half, setting up camp in the offensive third but failing to create more legitimate scoring chances. Corpus Christi created a chance of their own with just over under 20 minutes to play, but Erdmann sent her shot from the center edge of the 18-yard box just high of Lovejoy’s goal.
Peskin next got another quality shot off from the edge of the box with 16:30 to go in the game, forcing an impressive save from Hall to keep it a one-goal game. Right at the 10-minute mark, the junior again found herself in scoring position, taking a perfect through ball into the box but had her low shot saved again by Hall and the parry cleared out of bounds.
After nearly 85 minutes of being seemingly everywhere on the pitch, Peskin had to be helped off the field after a hard Islander foul left her on the pitch.
While the Islanders furiously searched for an equalizer, Lamar confidently slowed down the tempo and held fast to their lead for the final minutes, earning a spot in the semifinals with a 1-0 victory.
The Cardinals finished with a 14-5 edge on shots (5-3 on goal), owning possession in the host’s half for virtually the entire game. The Islanders finish their season with a 6-9-3 overall record.
Lamar (16-3-1) will face off against No. 4 Central Arkansas in the second semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. on the Southland Digital Network.