Nicholls soccer off to best start in program history

Former Morgan City High School standout Lauren O’Brien

Staff Report

THIBODAUX — After playing to a scoreless draw in the first half, the Nicholls State University women’s soccer team and University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals combined to score six goals in the second half, but unfortunately the Cardinals scored two within minutes of each other for the final margin.

Nicholls, which entered the contest off to its best start in school history at 9-0-1, had tied the match at two before UIW took the lead.

With the conference loss, Nicholls drops to 3-1 in Southland Conference play.

Although Nicholls’ program record winning streak ends at eight, the squad is still off to the best start in team history and has more league wins so far than any other Nicholls team in history.

For just the second time this season, the Colonels gave up multiple goals to an opponent as UIW (7-3, 1-2) outshot the Colonels 26-13 in the contest, with the Cardinals earning 11 shots on goal to Nicholls’ six.

Sophomore forward Spencer Valdespino led all players with seven shots on the day, scoring her 10th goal of the season and earning her third assist of the season.

Miranda O’Neil scored Nicholls’ only goal of the second half. The goal was her fourth of the season.

Amanda Boylson (5-1-1) had some brilliant saves in the first half and ended the match with seven saves in the loss.

Cardinal goalie Heather Kowalik stopped four shots and allowed two goals for UIW.

After the first-half draw, an already tense match got even tighter in the opening minutes of the second half as a Nicholls foul in the box gave UIW a penalty kick, which Sarah Flores converted to go up 1-0.

Fortunately, the Colonels wasted little time, making its comeback, as Valdespino got behind the defense around the right side of the box and fired a shot that originally looked saved but bounced off of Kowalik’s hands and into the net to tie the match at one.

Things got even crazier in the 58th minute, as UIW’s Amanda Watkins scored off a deflection to make it 2-1 UIW. No less than 30 seconds later, O’Neil fired a shot from 16 yards away to the top shelf of the far post to tie the match at 2.

Unfortunately, the excitement turned to anguish in the 72nd minute, as UIW got a header from Heather McKinney and chipped shot over Boylson’s head within seconds of each other to go up 4-2.

The Colonels will be back in action Friday, hosting the Lamar Cardinals at 4 p.m. at the Nicholls Soccer Complex in Thibodaux.

Former Morgan City High School standout Lauren O’Brien played 39 minutes.

On Sept. 27, Nicholls defeated Abilene Christian 3-1 in Thibodaux.

O’Brien scored one of the Colonels’ three goals.

In a tightly contested match, the two teams fought through a draw in the first half before the Colonels broke through and scored its final two goals of the match in the second half to pull away from ACU. There were only 16 shots taken between the two teams, 10 by Nicholls with four on goal and six by the Wildcats with two on goal.

Nicholls senior midfielder Annie Newell was a big force throughout, earning assists on the goals by Kristy Tatom and Amber Moore, while Melissa Pestalozzi assisted on O’Brien’s goal.

It was a sporadic night for goalies, but Colonel goalie Boylson (5-0-1) allowed just one goal and had one save in the second half to come within one game of tying the school record for goalie wins in a season. ACU’s Sydney Newton (4-1-1) took the loss and had one save among the three goals allowed.

By many indications, the Colonels got off to a rough start in the first few minutes of the game and trailed for just the third time this season after Wildcat leading scorer Andrea Carpenter scored her eighth goal of the season in the second minute to put Abilene Christian up 1-0.

Already pressing, Nicholls didn’t wait long to respond as Newell found Tatom on the right side, who fired it past the keeper to knot the game at one in the seventh minute of the half. The goal was Tatom’s second score of the season.

As the game headed into halftime, senior defender Meghan Lanteigne fell to the turf after a free kick by ACU and would not return to the game due to injury.

With very little time due to the duration of the injury timeout, the two teams went right into the second half.

In the 60th minute, Pestalozzi found O’Brien who fought through a couple ACU defenders and Newton and scored on an open net from the left side of the box to put Nicholls up 2-1. It was O’Brien’s fourth goal this season.

Almost 10 minutes later, Nicholls earned a corner kick opportunity from the right side.

Newell placed the ball well into the box and found defender Amber Moore who headed in the goal and sealed the win for the Colonels, putting the team up 3-1.

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