Disappointing end to superb season

By BJ Laudermilk | Sports Editor

Photo Courtesy | lionathletics.com

The A&M-Commerce women’s soccer team saw their season end prematurely in the Lone Star Conference Tournament after suffering a 2-0 loss to rival West Texas A&M in the semifinal round on Nov. 3.

The Lions were the two seed in the tournament after finishing the regular season with four straight wins, including a 3-1 win over West Texas A&M and a 1-0 victory over top seeded Angelo State on the road to cap the regular season. A&M-Commerce was ranked seventh in the NCAA’s South Central Region going into the tournament and needed to win to make it in as one of the six teams from the region, but when the rankings were revealed on Nov. 6, the Lions were on the outside looking in.

The Lions were held scoreless for only the third time all season. A&M-Commerce had eight shots, four of which were on goal. West Texas A&M didn’t get on the scoreboard until the second half, but the Lions were unable to find space by the stifling Buff defense.

After the loss, the Lions concluded their season at 12-4-3, tying a record for most wins at home in a season with nine. The Lions missed the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2012, despite only losing four times, their lowest loss total in a season in the past ten years.

A&M-Commerce had four players honored by the conference before their season ended as Sophie Haywood was awarded Academic Player of the Year in her final season with the Lions, while junior Delaney Bunselmeyer won Defensive Player of the Year. Sophomore Michelle Kotlick was honored as Midfielder of the Year and Leslie Campuzano won Freshman of the Year honors. The team picked up a total of 13 individual honors from the conference postseason awards.

The Lions brought in 13 new athletes at the beginning of the season, including 11 freshmen, and the youth of the team will be key in the pursuit of winning the conference championship once more next season. With only two seniors departing, the Lions will use this year of both many positives and unfortunate negatives to get back on track next season as they try to return to the NCAA postseason once more.