Ladyjacks Lock Up SLC Championship
Nov. 4, 2007
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The final score matched the magnitude of the occasion Sunday afternoon at the SFA Soccer Complex, as the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks clobbered Nicholls State, 7-0, on a momentous day for the SFA soccer program.
With the victory, SFA secured a share of its fifth Southland Conference championship -- the most of any team in the 11-year history of SLC soccer. In addition, the victory propelled third-year head coach Jaime Frias into the top spot for coaching victories at Stephen F. Austin. His career record at SFA now stands at 34-16-3, one win better than his predecessor, Nicole Nelson.
The SLC title is the second won under Frias, tying him with the program's first head coach, Rachel Sanders-Skinner, for the most league titles at SFA. Also, the championship is the Ladyjacks' third in four years, making SFA the only school in the conference to have won three crowns in any four-year stretch.
The Ladyjacks entered Sunday's match as part of a three-way tie for first place with league foes McNeese State and Texas-San Antonio. SFA needed a win to cement its championship. The Ladyjacks responded to that challenge emphatically, ringing up four goals in the game's first 20 minutes, then coasting to the final margin.
SFA got on the board before the two-minute mark, when junior midfielder Lauren Fricks scored the first of her two goals on a long shot from the right of the 18-yard box. The high shot rolled in off the hands of Nicholls goalkeeper Molly Mersereau to give SFA a 1-0 lead at the 1:45 mark.
The Ladyjacks extended their lead in the 11th minute when sophomore forward Erika Palmacci took a nice pass from classmate Jenna Turner and finished her run by flicking a shot over Mersereau and into the back of the net. Palmacci would score twice more in the second half to record her first career hat trick and improve her team-leading season goals total to 12. That total ties her for sixth on the SFA single-season goals list.
Fricks got on the board again three minutes later when she took possession near midfield and dribbled deftly through the Nicholls defense before beating the 'keeper with a low shot to the left. The goal was her third this year and provided her first multi-goal performance of the season.
SFA wrapped up the first-half scoring in the 20th minute, when junior forward Amanda Alders corralled a deflection off a shot by Fricks and buried it in the net for her fifth goal of the season and program-best 32nd career goal.
Alders found her fourth assist of the season in the second half, when she set up freshman Courtney Bauder for her first career goal. Bauder, a goalkeeper by trade, got into the action as a field player for the second time this season in an effort to help rest some Ladyjack starters. She made the most of her opportunity, taking a cross from Alders and lifting a shot over Mersereau from the top left corner of the goal box.
Bauder earned her first career assist in the 71st minute, when she sent a pass across the box to Palmacci who slipped a low shot past the 'keeper from the left side of the goal box. On her final goal of the day, Palmacci dribbled in from the opposite side and again went low to set the final tally with a score in the 75th minute.
In all, SFA fired off 43 shots, 27 of which landed on goal. Mersereau finished with 20 saves, marking the first time a Ladyjack opponent has recorded that many saves since a game against Northwestern State in 2002. Ladyjack goalkeeper Crystin Pactor turned away three shots on goal by the Colonels, giving her 71 saves for the season. The shutout was her fifth this year.
SFA finished the regular season with an 11-4-2 overall record, which ties for the third-best regular-season wins total in school history. The Ladyjacks have now recorded double-digit victories in four of the last five seasons.
SFA will share this year's conference title with McNeese State. The Cowgirls knocked off UTSA, 4-1, Sunday, to finish the regular season with the same 7-1-1 league record as SFA. By virtue of its tie-breaker edge over the Ladyjacks, McNeese State will enter next weekend's Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed. As the No. 2 seed, SFA earns a first-round bye and will play the winner of Thursday's game between No. 3 UTSA and No. 6 Sam Houston State. That second-round showdown is set for Friday at 7 p.m. The tournament will be played at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.
-- SFA --