Vandals ‘WAC’ way toward tournament with win in Ruston
With a group of 10 senior leaders, something had to eventually give. With only three matches remaining in the regular season, Idaho soccer was on the brink of missing the post season completely.
That was before the Vandals grabbed an improbable 2-1 victory against the La. Tech Lady Techsters Sunday in Ruston, La. — a victory that may boost them into the WAC Tournament.
The Vandals (5-12-1, 2-3-1) took an early lead against La. Tech (12-2-4, 3-1-2) via a goal from sophomore midfielder Katie Baran in the second minute, Baran’s third of the season with the assist coming from senior Megan Lopez.
Idaho coach Pete Showler said the quick start is exactly what a team struggling for goals needs.
“We talked about starting fast and taking control of the game as quickly as we could, because they just don’t give any goals up on their home field and they’ve gotten so many wins at home,” Showler said.
The Vandals only had to wait 10 more minutes before finding the back of the Lady Techster net again, this time on an unassisted goal from senior forward Chelsea Small, her seventh of the season.
Idaho held the 2-0 lead going into the half, outshooting La. Tech 9-7 in the opening 45 minutes.
Both teams exchanged blows in the second half with La. Tech getting off seven shots to Idaho’s three.
The breakthrough moment for the Lady Techsters came in the 83rd minute when Brittany Beddow scored on a long rebound bringing La. Tech within one score with seven minutes left.
The victory was La. Tech’s first home defeat of the season and broke the Lady Techsters’ 14-match-losing streak
“Now we’ve got to come back, finish the weekend strongly and keep things in our own hands,” Showler said. “Denver is top 25 for a reason and they’re one of the top teams in the country. New Mexico State is going to come in wanting to prove a point, so we have two crucial, crucial games.”
The win puts the Vandals into seventh place in the WAC with two matches remaining, both at home against Denver and New Mexico State on Thursday and Sunday respectively.
Idaho will qualify for the WAC Tournament with one win this weekend, regardless of what any other teams do.
Madison McCord can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org