What began as “Sophomore Day” here turned into a grand-scale soccer celebration for all Wednesday as Coach Alicia Wilson’s Bulldogs upset third-ranked Tyler, 4-1.
Navarro’s fourth straight victory was, arguably, a signature win for second-year coach Wilson, who claimed her first coaching victory over the Bulldogs’ chief Region XIV soccer rival in five meetings. Wednesday’s win avenged a 4-2 loss to TJC under the lights at Pat Hartley Field in Tyler on September 28.
The Bulldogs (11-4/6-3) snapped Tyler winning streaks of eight conference matches and 11 overall. Until Wednesday, TJC (14-2-1/8-1) had been unbeaten in its last 12 matches since a 1-1 tie with Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa on September 10.
Sophomores Alliyah Nolan and Deneisha Blackwood, Region XIV’s top two goalmakers, accounted for three first-half goals against the Apache Ladies and goalkeeper Christina Hendershot.
Hendershot entered the match with a 13-1-1 netminding record with 3 shutouts and had allowed only 11 goals all season.
Nolan wrong-footed Hendershot three minutes into the contest — a quick shot that nestled into the right hand corner of the net for her team-high 23rd goal of the season.
Nolan’s goal prompted an immediate, normal home-crowd reaction, and triggered an unusual, unexpected roar of approval from practicing Bulldog football players. Defensive-unit practice stopped first and players erupted with their support; offensive-unit work instantly broke on the far west field and chimed in with the riffle effect.
It was felt. It was heard.
Blackwood added her 20th and 21st goals with spectacular finishes three minutes apart to send the Apache Ladies spiraling into a position they hadn’t seen all season by the game’s 25-minute mark.
One of Blackwood’s shots hit the crossbar and referees ruled that it crossed over the goalline on a vertical carom.
Ten minutes into the second half, TJC averted a shutout, but the Bulldogs countered with a responding goal by freshman Margriet Samsom. Samsom, from The Netherlands, maneuvered inside from the left wing, ignored a near-impossible angle and thundered a shot high into the right net for her 8th of the season and Navarro’s fourth of the game.
For the final 30 minutes, Navarro continued to play perhaps its best defensive game of the season and kept the Apache Ladies off the scoreboard.
A good, supportive campus crowd, including band and cheerleader presence, enjoyed Navarro’s final regular-season home game as Tyler went away winless for the fourth time in its last five trips to Corsicana.
In Wednesday’s only other match involving a Region XIV team, Northeast Texas scored a 5-1 non-conference win over Cisco.
On Saturday regular-season play wraps up with Northeast Texas at Paris (noon), Jacksonville at Tyler (5 pm), and Navarro at Lufkin against Angelina (5:30 pm).
The Bulldogs now must hit the road if they have designs on making post-season trips to the NJCAA National Tournament in Melbourne, Fla.
Navarro opens the Region XIV semifinals at Northeast and a victory would likely set up a rematch on the road in Tyler, where Tyler scored with 1:56 left to beat Navarro 1-0 and advance to the nationals a year ago.
SOURCE: CORSICANA DAILY SUN