September 22, 2013

Undefeated Nicholls Holds Off Islanders, 2-1

CORPUS CHRISTI – Yvette Franco scored her team-leading eighth goal of the season, but the comeback effort was not enough for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's soccer team, as it was edged by Nicholls 2-1 on Sunday at the Dr. Jack Dugan Family Soccer & Track Stadium.

Nicholls (8-0-1, 2-0-0 Southland) remained undefeated on the season, netting a pair of first-half goals and then holding off a late charge by the Islanders (1-7-0, 0-2-0). Audrey Baldwin turned aside 10 shots for the home squad in a losing effort.

"I think at the start of the game, we were just flat and waiting for things to happen," head coach Shanna Caldwell said, "and a little disorganized with some injuries early. The second half was the Islanders soccer team that we all know. We had a bite to us and took to the attack. Yvette got involved and she and [Meghan] Cordero really read each other well on the set piece to score the goal.

"I believe we are still moving in the right direction as a program," she added, "and we showed our heart and fight in the second half. Dani [Gonzalez] did a great job coming back in after receiving stitches early in the game."

In the opening 10 minutes, the Islanders had to deal with a pair of players going down on the back line, as Gonzalez and Mariah Olivé both had to come off the field due to injury. The Colonels struck first after earning a free kick just outside the penalty area in the 18th minute. Spencer Valdespino took the attempt, and sent it around the wall and into the lower right corner for her ninth goal of the season, making it 1-0 at the 17:27 mark.

Just over four minutes later, Nicholls was able to double its advantage on a wild scramble. Jess Coates got the first opportunity, ripping a shot on the left side off the crossbar from inside the 18. Baldwin tried to knock aside the carom, but it found its way to the foot of Hannah Savoie, and the freshman sent it into the back of the net at 21:58 for a 2-0 lead for the visitors. The Colonels carried that lead into the locker room.

The Islanders came out blazing, and got a goal back just over two minutes into the second half. Rachel Keeley drew a foul on the near sideline, and on the ensuing free kick, Cordero sent a brilliant bending cross toward the far post. Despite being the smallest player in the skirmish in the box, Franco showed her ability to sniff out the ball, placing a head on it and sending it into the far side to make it a 2-1 game at the 47:23 mark.

From there, the game got slightly chippy, with referee Luis Martinez issuing a trio of yellow cards in the second half. Kallyn Redona and Alyssa Miller were carded for the Islanders, while Jess Coates was booked for Nicholls.

A&M-Corpus Christi continued to show its determination into the closing minutes, and had a pair of strong opportunities to knot the score in the final 10 minutes. But Miller's effort from just outside the penalty area sailed just over the upper right corner, and a Sara Chandlee shot in the 88th minute went wide to the left side.

The Islanders hit the road for their next action, as they travel to Conway, Ark., for a matchup with Central Arkansas on Friday, Sept. 27. Game time is set for 4 p.m. and updates will be provided on the official Twitter feed of Islanders Soccer, @IslandersSoccer.