Women’s soccer wins its own battles, features fundraiser for others in need

The UCA women’s soccer team (8-3-1, 3-1 SLC) fought last weekend  to win games that they hoped would prepare them for the Southland Conference tournament in October, and raised money for childhood cancer awareness.

On Sept. 28 the Bears played against Abilene Christian University (8-4, 3-2 SLC) at the Bill Stephens Complex in an attempt to get back in the win column after a 1-3 loss against Lamar University Sept. 21. The first half went by without a goal from either team.

UCA senior forward Camille Bassett kicked the first shot on goal, but had it blocked. ACU sophomore Christina Arteaga attempted a shot, but it was blocked by UCA senior goalie Lauren Mercuri.

With 33:27 left in the second half, junior forward Bria Williams made UCA’s first goal.

Williams had three more attempts to make another goal, but to no avail.

Bassett scored another point for the Bears at 4:17 in the first half. This was Bassett’s sixth goal of the season.

ACU freshman Laura Maludin made a shot at the last second of the first half.

Mercuri got hurt during a corner kick during a collision, but was able to get up eventually.

The 2-1 final score proved that the Bears were ready to make a comeback after a few setbacks, but the team still respected ACU’s talent.

“Abilene is a very good team [and]it was a battle all night long,” coach Jeremy Bishop said. “Our girls played really well, fought really hard and deserved the win.”

Though the first half was slow, coach Derek Nichols saw the team’s hard work in the past week pay off with the tight defense.

“The last couple of games we’ve started off a bit slow, so we wanted to get off to a fast start [this game], and we did that, [even without]getting goals to show for it,” Nichols said.

The game raised many funds for charity. A charity fundraiser selling lemonade was held on the sidelines by Peter Smith, father of

3-year-old Joanna Smith, who is currently battling PH+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare type of cancer that is seen in about 5 percent of pediatric leukemia patients.

“As a family going through this, to be shown support from your community, it means a lot in regards to knowing that there are people there to bear the burden with you,” Smith said. “[Coach Bishop and his wife] were kind enough to take up the mantle of support for Joanna and childhood cancer awareness this month.”

For those looking to donate to the Smith family’s fund, a GoFundMe page has been created online titled the “Darby and Peter Smith Family” campaign, which has already raised $31,400 out of the $100,000 needed to help offset medical costs for the family of five.

On Sept. 30 the UCA Bears won in sweeping fashion against the University of Incarnate Word 6-0.

Within the first 44 seconds, Mercuri saved the first shot attempt by the Cardinals, and at 41:54, sophomore midfielder Hadley Dickenson scored the first goal for the Bears and her second this season.

Bassett soon made UCA’s second goal, assisted by senior defender Kristen Ricks, putting the score at 2-0 within the first 10 minutes.

Just before the halfway mark of the first half, UCA junior midfielder Jordan Slim scored, making it a 3-0 game. This was Slim’s first goal of the season.

After surviving an offensive effort from Incarnate Word, UCA made two more goals within three minutes of play.

UCA freshman forward Morgan Hurd got her first goal of the year at 2:43, and the Bears finished out the first half leading 6-0 against the Cardinals.

Neither team scored in the second half, and UCA won its second straight game.

“I thought we worked well together as a team,” Tidd said. “We really worked on switching the point of attack and making sure we [could]find our outsides to spread out [the opponent’s]defense.”

The team’s next game will be against Stephen F. Austin State University Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. as they travel to Nacogdoches, Texas.

Photo by Marcus McClain

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