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Soccer season bounces toward end

By Adam Troxtell
On October 30, 2009

Three points now separate the top six teams in the Lone Star Conference women's soccer table after Texas A&M University-Commerce beat East Central University 5-0 on Tuesday night in their final home game of the season.

The match was played at Memorial Stadium on the turf due to the conditions of A&M-Commerce Soccer Field.

In what was a crucial LSC game, the Lions immediately came out full throttle, and got an early goal. Senior Meagan Lasley sent a right footed crossing pass in from the left and found the head of sophomore Devon Herrman. She caught East Central goalkeeper Natalie Wilson wrong-footed as the ball sailed into the center of the net, giving A&M-Commerce the 1-0 lead.

The Lions continued to dominate the game, but struggled to find another goal in the first half. Herrman, Lasley, and junior Chelsey Haight all finished the half with three shots. Luckily for A&M-Commerce, who out-shot the Tigers 19 to 7 in the match, one of those did find the back of the net.

Junior Megan Monroe sent a free kick into the middle of the penalty box. After the ball bounced once, Lasley put her foot to it and applied the lethal finish in the lower right corner of the net. At halftime, the Lions led 2-0.

They added the third just 30 seconds into the second half. Lasley provided the pass to striking partner Haight, and she blasted a shot near post for her seventh goal of the season. Lasley netted her second and the Lions fourth of the night in the 63rd minute. The senior, who leads the team in goals with 14 this season, started with the ball in the midfield. She sped across the field, past the East Central defensive line, and provided the finish. Lasley finished the night with two goals, two assists, and seven shots.

With just under 10 minutes left, the fifth goal of the night came for A&M-Commerce. Freshman Paige Vincent scored her first of the season off of another Megan Monroe free kick. The first-year sent a curling header into the right side of the net. This is the second game in a row for the Lions in which a freshman has netted her first goal. Haley Mull scored her first against Northeastern State last Sunday.

This was the Lions' second game played on the turf at Memorial Stadium this season due to weather. While they did win both of those encounters, senior goalkeeper Taylor Jordan said the different surface does change the way the game is played.

"It's much faster," she said. "You have to be aware of your surroundings. When balls go over defenders heads, you just have to be on your toes. It definitely changes the pace. There are more throw-ins, more goal kicks, more corner kicks, and those are the set plays that we strive on as a team. So, this turf actually helped us tonight, I think."

After the win, A&M-Commerce sits 5th in the LSC table with a 5-3 record. They are on a two game winning streak.

"The first twenty minutes, I thought East Central gave us a go," head coach Neil Piper said about Tuesday's win. "Once we got the lead and, obviously that goal before the half, that killed the game. It was a game we needed to win."

Since the teams at the top of the LSC standings are so close, it is important teams are aware of the potential tie-breaking goal differential. Piper said that played a role in the team's strategy for this match.

"We wanted to win by at least four, so I wasn't comfortable until we got that four or five goal lead," he said. "I thought it was cruise control from there."

As this was the last home game of the 2009 season, it was also the last for the outgoing seniors. After transferring to A&M-Commerce from Ouachtia Baptist in 2008, Jordan said she has enjoyed her two years playing for the Lions.

"It's been interesting, that's for sure, but a good interesting," Jordan said. "I've built a lot of character here, and I've learned how to lose but also win here. I think it's just been wonderful meeting these girls, and with not just me but everyone put together, this has probably been the best two years of the program, from what Neil (Piper) has said."

A&M-Commerce will play its last two games of the season this weekend, starting with a trip to Central Oklahoma on Friday.

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