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Mountaineer soccer secures Sun Belt Tournament birth in win over Arkansas State

Junior+defender+Skyler+Walk+controls+possession+against+James+Madison+Sept.+24%2C+2023.
Max Sanborn
Junior defender Skyler Walk controls possession against James Madison Sept. 24, 2023.

App State soccer defeated Arkansas State 2-1 Sunday in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The victory secured a spot for App State as one of the 10 teams to participate in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. 

The Mountaineers made it to the tournament last season, but were eliminated in the first round in head coach Aimee Haywood’s first season with the team. 

“They have worked so hard all season and I’m so happy to see it payoff in another tournament berth,” Haywood said. “We still have one more game left and we want to keep climbing.” 

A win in App State’s regular season finale against Georgia State earns the team a bye into the tournament quarterfinals. The tournament is set to begin Oct. 30 in Foley, Alabama.

The first half against Arkansas State saw the Mountaineers apply consistent offensive pressure, putting up seven shots on goal and commanding possession of the ball. Despite ending the half in a scoreless draw, the Black and Gold appeared to have control of the match entering the ensuing 45 minutes. 

The first half also saw App State graduate student goalkeeper Kerry Eagleston reach yet another milestone. Eagleston scooped up a shot at the bottom center of the net in the 10th minute of play. This marked her 400th career save. She recorded three more by the final whistle, and exited the match as the active career leader for Division I saves with 403, as well as the active all-time leader in minutes played by a goalkeeper at 8,048.

App State broke the draw in the 57th minute when freshman forward Summer Bowman played a cross to junior midfielder Sarah Widderich, who snuck the ball past the Arkansas State goalkeeper and into the back of the net, putting the Mountaineers ahead 1-0. The connection marked Widderich’s first goal of the season and Bowman’s first assist. 

The Red Wolves responded in the 80th minute with a penalty kick, which got past Eagleston and found the bottom right corner of the net, leveling the match at 1-1. 

The Mountaineers went straight back to work after seceding the late goal. Senior forward Izzi Wood found herself on a breakaway in the 83rd minute, she took a shot from the top of the penalty box, which deflected off of the Arkansas State goalkeeper and into the bottom right corner of the net. 

App State’s defense held strong throughout the final minutes of the match, and Wood’s goal proved to be the game-winner as the Mountaineers escaped Jonesboro with a 2-1 victory. The win puts the team at 8-5-3 on the season.

App State will travel to Atlanta Thursday for their regular season finale against Georgia State at 6 p.m. The match can be streamed on ESPN+.

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About the Contributors
Fran Murphy, Reporter
Fran Murphy (he/him) is a junior digital journalism major, english minor, from Asheville, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
Max Sanborn, Photographer
Max Sanborn (he/him) is a sophomore Commercial Photography Major, from Indian trail, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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