LITTLE ROCK – With temperatures reaching into the triple digits on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, the UALR soccer team picked up a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Missouri State, downing the Bears for only the second time in program history.
Paige Mason had the game’s only goal in the 55th minute, and UALR (3-3) surpassed its win total from all of 2012 in just the sixth game of 2013. Missouri State (1-6) previously held a 13-1 record lifetime against the Trojans, but UALR outlasted the Bears and used 20 of its 23 field players to stave off the heat.
“It was one that we really had to grind out, battle and really compete, and we did a much better job of that today that we did Friday night,” coach Adrian Blewitt said. “We just ground out a really good result.”
The play that resulted in Mason’s goal started in the midfield with a long pass to a streaking Lexus VanPelt on the left side. VanPelt sprinted to the ball, touched it once to advance it closer to the end line, and made a pass into the six-yard box. Missouri State’s goalie let it roll past her to a defender, but the defender’s clearance went right to Mason at the top of the penalty area. Mason teed up her shot perfectly and finished in the top right corner of the net.
“Lexus managed to get down the left and put a really good cross across the face of the goal,” Blewitt said. “Paige arrived late onto the top of the box and had a great finish.”
Mason was one of four Trojans who lasted all 90 minutes in the game along with junior Kailie Holloway, freshman defender Linnea Kogsta and freshman goalie Kylie Wilson (3-1).
“[Playing all 90 minutes] was very, very tough definitely,” said Holloway, who scored her first career goal on Friday night against Kansas City. “Feet are burning, everyone’s hot, but mentally you just have to push through it no matter what, and we did that as a team.”
Holloway was also given the team's Trojan Head award after the contest as its most valuable player of the game.
“She had a really good week,” Blewitt said of Holloway. “She just gave us really good pace back there and recovered a few times when they were getting through. She was fantastic this week.”
Wilson only faced one shot on goal all game and saved it easily, picking up her first career complete-game shutout.
The final 35 minutes saw few chances for either team, though Adrianna Queen did have a chance on a wide open net that went just wide. The last 10 minutes saw the Trojans buckle down on defense to earn the shutout, not letting any Bears shots get on goal.
Neither team was able to capitalize in the first half, and both squads substituted players liberally as the 100-degree heat took its toll on both rosters.
The visitors had seven shots to the Trojans’ four at halftime, but only one shot for Missouri State was on goal. At the end of the game, Missouri State led in shots and corner kicks, but the Trojans had the higher number where it mattered most.
UALR continues its four-game home stretch on Friday when Louisiana Tech comes to the Coleman Sports & Recreation Complex for a 7 p.m. showdown.