Women’s soccer tie in both weekend games

Mountaineers tie in two defensive battles
Sophomore defense Alexa Asher and senior midfield Jackie Nieradka against Texas State on September 23, 2016. The game ended in a tie 1-1. Photo by Olivia Lepard

App State women’s soccer tie in both of their conference games this weekend against Texas State and Georgia State. They entered the weekend 0-2 in conference and now sit at 0-2-2 still searching for their conference win.

Game One (Friday 7 p.m.) Story By: Ian Taylor, Intern Sports Reporter

Coming into Friday night’s game against Texas State, the Appalachian State women’s soccer team was desperate for a positive conference result, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 tie against their Sun Belt foes in overtime.

The Mountaineers (5-5-1, 0-2-1 Sun Belt) came back to Boone after dropping two away games to conference opponents, hoping to halt their skid and get their season back on track.

Texas State entered the game coming off of two consecutive wins versus conference opponents and were looking to extend that streak.

The game started with Texas State (5-4-2, 0-2-1 Sun Belt) playing a strong in the midfield, rarely allowing Appalachian to keep possession past midfield. The Bobcats however, were unable to get past App’s rock-solid back line anchored by senior defenders Lindsey Tully, Carrie Taylor and Aubrey Fletcher.

After the game, Taylor described her mentality on the back line throughout the game positively

“I guess I just knew that we could it, even when there was four seconds left in the game and I’m like screaming at people to try to get the ball back in,” Taylor said. “There was no point where I doubted that we would win that game I guess.”

It would prove to be a game of inches for the first 30 minutes of the match, with no team allowing much progress. App would be able to adjust however, and added pressure after the 34th minute, starting with a senior forward Jackie Nieradka free kick that barely missed the net.

As there was more and more pressure coming from the Mountaineers, it appeared as though they might have broken through in the 38th minute, but a penalty was controversially not awarded by the referee

Finally, in the 40th minute of the first half, it was sophomore Emmily Cowie who scored on a wild loose ball, thanks to a double-assist from teammates Flanders and redshirt junior Erin Settle. App headed into the half with a 1-0 lead.

Texas State who would come out swinging in the second half as they piled pressure on the Mountaineers.

Only three minutes into the half, the pressure would be too much for the Mountaineers’ defense, as sophomore striker Kassi Hormuth was able to get a shot into the right side of App’s net to level the score at 1-1.

The Mountaineers responded, controlling the pace with an attack led by veteran forward Jane Cline, who would contribute five of her team’s 10 second half shots.

“I definitely had some chances that I should have finished, but from now on forward, it’s just something I need to work on and do it in the next game, for Sunday,” Cline said.

Numerous chances were missed the rest of the game, starting with a free kick from Nieradka that went over the crossbar. Only nine minutes later, first half hero Cowie came close, but missed her shot wide left.

Cowie’s miss would start a 10-minute attack on Texas State’s goalkeeper, including multiple close calls from Jane Cline. In the 88th minute, a blatant jersey pull with no card allowed the Mountaineers to have a close-range shot with a free kick, only for it to go slightly over the bar.

With no scoring progress from either team past Texas State’s equalizer, the game would go into an overtime of two 10-minute halves.

It would only take five minutes in the first overtime period for more controversy in the game to arise. In the 95th minute, a blatantly hard tackle from a Texas State defender on Cline appeared to give App the potentially game-winning penalty. Strangely, the penalty was not awarded by the head referee, leaving many stunned by the call.

Over the course of overtime, Cline and Nieradka would both add two shots each to their totals, one of each would be a shot-on-goal.

In the end the game finished in a tie, keeping App winless through three conference games, and Texas State undefeated through their three conference games.

Game Two (Sunday 1 p.m.) Story By: Monica Crawford, Sports Reporter

After two halves and two overtimes of play, the App State (5-5-2, 0-2-2 Sun Belt) women’s soccer team finished their game against the Georgia State Panthers (4-3-2, 1-1-2 Sun Belt) in a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

“To get our first shutout in conference play is a really big deal,” head coach Sarah Strickland said. “We’ve started off with two tough weekends as far as level and where the teams are ranked and everything else so we are definitely doing better, and we’re a lot more positive and ready to go for sure going into next weekend.”

The game was 110 minutes of intense and aggressive play from both sides, with a total of 29 fouls and five cards.

“I definitely think they were strong on the ball, but we matched it and played really strong today,” senior forward Jane Cline said. “Now we know we can play the 110 minutes strong, and now we just have to get the results we want.”

Junior defender Lindsey Tully almost scored the game winning goal with a header late in the second overtime off of a corner kick, but the goal was called back due to a push in the box.

Despite not finishing on top, the Mountaineers were able to control the game with a strong offensive game built off of combinations in the midfield and movement off of the ball. The Mountaineers outshot the Panthers in both halves and both overtimes, finishing the game with 19 shots to the Panthers’ six.

“Our intensity was very good today,” Cline said. “Everyone was running down every single ball and going into every single tackle hard. We worked hard so we know we left everything on the field.”

Cline, who leads the Sun Belt in shots, led the Mountaineer offense with five shots, three of which were on goal. Junior defender Kelly Flanders was also able to work her way out of the back to finish the game with one shot on goal, and sophomore Alexa Asher and redshirt sophomore Sarah Peatross brought energy off the bench by finishing with a shot on goal each.

The Mountaineer defense also held strong, keeping the Panther’s offense from doing much at all in the first half. Defenders, Tully, Carrie Taylor, Aubrey Fletcher and Flanders all played the entire 110 minutes of the game and were able to keep the Panthers’ aggressive offense scoreless.

Junior goalkeeper Sam Steyl defended the back line with five total saves. This is the fifth game in which Steyl has made five or more saves and her first conference shutout. Steyl had a big save late in the second overtime as a Georgia State forward dribbled into the box on a breakaway.

Finishing the game with a tie was not what the Mountaineers were aiming for, but they still see this weekend as an improvement from last weekend, where they lost both games.

“It’s definitely encouraging to see that we’re strong defensively to be able to say that we can play 110 minutes, but it’s also frustrating when you’re not getting the results you want,” Tully said. “But it’s definitely a step in the positive direction. We went from two losses last weekend to two tie this weekend so two wins next weekend isn’t out of the question.”

Next up for the Mountaineers is Arkansas State at Arkansas on Friday at 4 p.m.

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