ABILENE – Houston Baptist launched 22 shots and placed seven on frame, but none found the back of the net and Abilene Christian escaped the Wildcat Soccer Pitch Sunday with a tense 1-0 victory over its new Southland Conference rival.
The win keeps the Wildcats unbeaten at 8-0-1 and 2-0-0, while the hard-luck Huskies fell to 1-6-1 and 0-1 vs. the Southland. All of HBU’s losses have been by one goal.
ACU’s shutout was its fourth of the season and the first for freshman goalkeeper Sydney Newton, who collected seven saves. Newton also was helped by a ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ defense that blocked six shots, including one in the 87th minute that was taken by Allison Abendschein with the ACU goalkeeper out of position.
“This was a good win for us overall,” said head coach Casey Wilson. “Houston Baptist is a real good team and fought well the entire game. It was good for us to get that early score, considering there were a high number of close calls throughout.”
The Wildcats fired 21 shots but the only one that made its way past Huskie goalkeeper Stephanie Castellon was freshman Natalie Throneberry’s blooper at the start of the 10th minute. ACU forced a turnover at midfield, from where freshman Alyssa Gerner escaped with the ball. She then took it forward several yards before popping it between Throneberry and Castellon.
Throneberry shed off a defender in reaching the ball and flicked it over the head over a charging Castellon. With the net wide open, Throneberry notched had her third goal of the year and Gerner her fourth assist.
ACU had plenty more opportunities to pad its lead throughout the second half, but the Wildcats were stymied four separate times by Castellon, including once on Andrea Carpenter’s penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
Carpenter also had a shot blocked by the post in the 54th minute and another one saved by Castellon in the 72nd. Seconds afterward, Jacey Ferrara tried to put back the rebound but her sliding attempt sailed high above the crossbar. Carpenter and Ferrara each led the team with five shots.
HBU outshot the Wildcats, 3-1, after Carpenter’s missed penalty kick. Newton saved one by Molly Missimer and then watched another go high. ACU also kept the Huskies from scoring on a corner kick in the 85th minute, which was HBU’s only one of the match.
“The defense did a good job and Sydney made some great saves,” said Wilson. “But I told the team after the match that if we don’t continue to get better each week then these two wins will be for naught. We have to keep fixing the things that need fixing moving forward because the conference is going to keep getting tougher all the way through to the end of the season. There are no freebies.”
The Wildcats return to action Friday, Sept. 27 for a 4 p.m. match at unbeaten Nicholls State, which owns the same records as ACU.