LITTLE ROCK – The UALR soccer team was with league-leading Western Kentucky every step of the way on Sunday afternoon, but the Hilltoppers got a late goal from a bad angle and held on for a 1-0 win on Senior Day at Coleman Sports & Recreation Complex.
Iris Dunn’s fifth goal of the season in the 79th minute was the deciding strike. Dunn had the ball outside the right side of the penalty box, and she took a long looping shot on goal. The ball sailed over the hands of a leaping Kylie Wilson, hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced into the net for the game-winning tally.
UALR (4-12-0, 1-6-0 Sun Belt Conference) plays its final game of the regular season on Friday at Texas State and must await results from ULM before it knows its conference tournament fate. Western Kentucky (8-4-4, 6-1-0) remains atop the conference and could face the Trojans again in the tournament’s first round.
The Trojans had multiple quality chances on goal and outplayed WKU for much of the afternoon, but they were never able to get on the board. UALR outshot the Hilltoppers 10-9 and had five corner kicks to WKU’s four. Wilson made six saves despite picking up the loss.
“There’s so many positives from today’s game,” said head coach Adrian Blewitt. “We are progressing. We possessed the ball much better this weekend than we have earlier in the season. Our defensive shape and pressing was excellent today.”
In the first half, a shot by Paige Mason was barely saved by Hilltoppers goalie Nora Abolins as she dove all the way to her right.
In the second half, freshman Kayla Turner intercepted a WKU pass near the top of the penalty box, took two steps and fired on goal, but Abolins was right there to make the catch on the breakaway. A few minutes later, Turner clanged a shot from the left side off the post.
In the waning minutes, freshman Hali Long had a chance from the right side that was nearly identical to the one that got WKU its goal. This time, though, Abolins jumped and deflected the shot high away from danger.
Before the contest, UALR honored its five seniors – Holly Holland, Adrianna Queen, Andrea Letzel, Mason and Ashley Barksdale – for their dedication to the program during their time in Little Rock. All five started the game.
“I’ve gone through a lot of diversity, a new coach and a bunch of new players, but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Queen said. “I’m just really happy that I’ve had this opportunity. [My coaches and teammates] made my experience so much more than what it has been.”
Queen got a special surprise when boyfriend Marc Brown proposed to her at midfield at halftime.
“I had no idea whatsoever,” Queen said. “It was a big surprise that made this game even more special. … I was freaking out. I kind of figured it was happening once I went over [to him], but I just couldn’t believe it. As soon as he went down [on one knee] and asked, I said yes.”
The Trojans finish out their regular-season schedule on the road at Texas State on Friday at 7 p.m. If the Trojans earn a berth in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, it will begin the week of Nov. 4 in San Marcos, Texas.