Lady Lions Roar in Home Opener

Ricky Moser, Sports Editor

Sept. 11 marked the 2016 home opener for the Texas A&M University-Commerce soccer team as they seek their third straight Lone Star Conference tournament championship.

The Lions and their two time LSC Coach of the Year, Neil Piper, entered the game against the 2-0 St. Edward’s Hilltoppers with an overall record of 1-2 after playing games in Florida and Oklahoma.

Both teams showcased good defense early on, highlighted by some great saves by A&M-Commerce sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Duty. Duty had five saves in the first half alone.

The first goal of the afternoon would be set up by a corner kick midway through the first half as senior forward Vicky Back located the ball in the air and headed it to the far post.

“I had plenty of space and the ball came straight in and I knew it was going in the goal. I wasn’t very worried,” Back said.

Head coach Neil Piper and A&M-Commerce went into halftime with the 1-0 lead over St. Edward’s.

“I thought we were very aggressive. This is a very tough team we’re playing and we have to keep it up,” Piper said. “We just need to take care of our set pieces a little bit more. I think we could have had a couple more goals on set pieces but we just have to be careful defensively because they’re dangerous. We can’t give them an inch.”

The Hilltoppers came out of halftime the more aggressive team, however, taking nine shots and scoring just six minutes into the second half.

Tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, the game went into a 10 minute overtime period but A&M-Commerce wasted little time putting the game away for good as freshman midfielder Michelle Kotlik kicked in the game winning goal from near the penalty shot area just 35 seconds into overtime.

“I didn’t realize that is was sudden death so I still thought it was like high school and we still had to play the rest of the game so once I saw everyone rushing the field it was an unreal feeling,” Kotlik said.

Coach Piper knows the 2-1 win was an important game for his team going forward.

“This was a hard game for us, we hadn’t beaten this team in a while and we looked second best in the second half and we survived it and luckily we got the goal in overtime,” Piper said. “We just have to keep working on the little things…and use this momentum and get a streak going.”

A&M-Commerce’s next game is Friday night at home against Harding.

“We just need to play our game, listen to the coaches, play the balls in the channels and be tough,” Kotlik said.