LAKE CHARLES – Tori Lasiter delivered when it mattered most.
After struggling to find the back of the net for most of the year, the McNeese senior's first goal of the season proved to be the only one that mattered in Sunday's emotional contest as the Cowgirls picked up a hard fought 2-1 victory over Southland Conference foe Northwestern State.
With a little under 12 minutes remaining in regulation and both teams knotted up at one goal apiece, Lasiter found Hannah Sutherland's pass just in front of the goal and was able to sneak the attempt past the NSU goalie and hand the Cowgirls their third league victory of the season.
“I have been trying so hard this season to find the net but timing is everything and to be able to score the game-winning goal was an awesome feeling,” said Lasiter. “This was a good win for our team this weekend. We came out strong and executed and got a much needed win.”
The game-winner is Lasiter's sixth of her career, which moves her into third place in the all-time game-winning goals list.
The Cowgirls (5-8-1, 3-4 SLC) picked themselves up from Friday's emotional loss to Stephen F. Austin and scored their first win over the Lady Demons in Lake Charles since 2009. The victory was also McNeese's fifth home victory this season.
“We knew after watching them on tape that Northwestern State was going to bring a good team today,” said head coach Scooter Savoie. “We were going to have to be prepared to play a good game especially when you endure overtime play two nights before.”
Northwestern State dropped to 3-11-1 overall on the year and remain winless in league play this season with a 0-6-1 mark in SLC action.
Sophomore Savannah LaRicci broke the ice just before the break as she rocketed a shot to the back of the net at the 40:43 mark on a cross into the box by senior Kelsie Greenough. LaRicci has now scored a team-high five goals this season. Greenough's assist was the first of the season and her career.
“We opened up with good momentum early in the match and found good balance along the way,” said Savoie. We got Kelsie into the right spot, which gave Savannah a great diagonal ball. That goal was huge in that moment because it allowed us to get up early and create more opportunities.”
The Lady Demons drew level in the 56th minute of action as a McNeese foul set up a Jackie Strug free kick that sailed past the goalkeeper to knot the match up at 1-1.
“We knew the second half was going to be decided on who was able to manage rotations and clock management,” said Savoie. “I thought we did a good job doing both of those things as we didn't attack as much but wanted to make sure we were locked down and ready for their attacks.”
McNeese led in shots with a 15-7 advantage as well as a 7-2 lead in on-target shots. The Lady Demons had two corner kicks to McNeese's two. Sunday's match was the 11th time this season that the Cowgirls have finished with double-digit shots and the fifth consecutive on the year.
With just four games left in the regular season, the Cowgirls find themselves in sixth place in the overall SLC standings as they trail fifth place Houston Baptist who holds a two-point lead over McNeese while Lamar sits just two points out of sixth place. The six teams that accrue the most points in the regular season are able to advance to postseason play.
The Cowgirls head back on the road on Friday night as they travel to Beaumont, Texas to battle rival Lamar at 7 p.m. at the LU Soccer Complex. The club will rest on Sunday before heading out west to Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian the next weekend.