2014 Women's Soccer Tournament Preview
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The 2014 Southwestern Athletic Conference women's soccer tournament will take place November 6-9 at the John Hunt Soccer Complex in Huntsville, Ala. This is the first year the event is being held at this facility. The top eight teams qualify for the tournament based on conference results.
Howard University, a newly chartered member, dominated conference play in its inaugural year in the SWAC. The Lady Bison clinched the regular season title and secured their spot as the number one seed in the tournament on Sunday, Oct. 26 when they defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6-0. Nia Walcott recorded a game-high of 11 shots during this game. She is one of the key players in the Lady Bison's success this season, standing out as a strong leader on the team. Walcott was recognized as offensive student-athlete of the week twice this season (Aug. 26, Oct. 9) and is also tied second in the league in game-winning goals, recording three on the season. Kyra Dickinson is also a top player for Howard. She earned goalkeeper of the week honors October 23 has recorded four shutouts this season. She is third in the league in save percentage (.761).
The Lady Panthers of Prairie View A&M University secured the number two seed after their big 3-2 win against Alabama A&M last Sunday in double overtime. After falling in the semifinals last year, the Panthers put themselves in a great position to vie for the 2014 title. Alicia Cooper is one of the Panther’s top offensive threats. She has scored two game-winning goals this season and is third in the league for total goals (9). Anchoring their defense is Deborah Arguelles and Bianca Garza. Arguelles’ defensive mindset has earned her defensive student-athlete of the week twice (Oct. 2 and Oct. 9). Garza is second in the conference in save percentage (.792) and is tied for first in shutouts with five this year.
Match 1 - 10:30 a.m.
#1 Howard University vs. #8 Alabama A&M University
The Lady Bison and Lady Bulldogs will go head to head in the first game of the tournament, Thursday, Oct. 6 at 10:30 a.m. on the east field. Howard played its first off-site home game against Alabama A&M, defeating them 1-0, October 3 at the Sicard Hollow Soccer Complex in Vestavia Hills, Ala. This was the first meeting between the two programs. Having to host a league opponent at a venue away from DC and traveling the same day proved to be of little consequence to Howard, who outshot AAMU 11-7 in the game. Howard controlled the flow of play in the first half, putting the Lady Bulldogs on their heels and forcing them to defend rather than attack. The game’s lone goal came in the 17th minute when Nikanya Clark took a pass on the left side and passed it across to a running Nia Walcott for the score. However, the young Lady Bulldogs increased the pressure after the goal and began to seize more control of the ball and the game. Senior goalkeeper Natasha Moore earned the first victory of her career in the contest. Starting in place of senior Kyra Dickinson, who missed the game for personal reasons, Moore made four saves and recorded the team’s second shutout of the year. Marissa Oehler recorded three saves for the Lady Bulldogs.
Match 2 - 1 p.m.
#4 Jackson State University vs. #5 Texas Southern University
Jackson State and Texas Southern face each other in a rematch of last year’s first round battle. JSU, the reigning tournament champion, blanked TSU 4-0. This season Jackson State enters the contest as the number four seed with a conference record of 5-3-2 while Texas Southern (5-2-2) is seeded fifth. The two teams last competed against each other October 24 in Houston, Texas. Jackson State took home a 2-0 road victory. Kamri Brown and Arial Vinson scored the two goals for the Lady Tigers. Jackson State outshot Texas Southern 9-6, with an 8-2 shots on goal advantage. Goalkeeper, Haley Rodriguez tallied two saves for Jackson State and Liliana Hernandez recorded six saves. The match starts at 1 p.m.
Match 3 - 3:30 p.m.
#3 Alabama State University vs. #6 Mississippi Valley State University
Sixth seeded Mississippi Valley State is only two years removed from capturing the 2012 SWAC title. Thursday they will collide with third seeded Alabama State. ASU enters as one of the hottest teams in the tournament riding the wave of a seven game winning streak. They have also scored two or more goals in the last eight games. So far, MVSU has been led by Nykosi Simmons who ranks second in the conference in shots (63) and tied for third in goals with eight. She is also second in the SWAC in points per game (1.25). The last time the two teams face each other ASU came out on top defeating the Devilettes, 3-1. Kayla Edwards, a sophomore from Cypress, Calif., came through with two first-half goals. The trio of Edwards, Shelby Vienna-Hallam and Aaliyah Lewis was once again a force to be reckoned with up front as each applied pressure early and often. Heather Craddock scored the Devilettes only goal of the match. Kylee Hathaway made eight saves for ASU while MVSU’s Rita Gyasi made 10 saves.
Match 4 - 6 p.m.
#2 Prairie View A&M University vs. #7 Southern University
After entering last season’s tournament as the western division champions and a number one seed, Southern University finds themselves in unfamiliar territory. Jami Blackston leads SUBR. She was named offensive student-athlete of the week (Oct. 2). The Lady Jaguars are the seventh seed holding on to a 4-3-2 record in league. Prairie View clinched second place in the SWAC before the end of the regular season. The two teams went head and head just two weeks ago. PVAMU prevailed and defeated the Lady Jaguars 2-0. Alicia Cooper and senior Debbie Arguelles scored 90 seconds apart late in the second half to give the Lady Panthers the victory. Senior goalkeeper Bianca Garza posted her fourth shutout of the season. The match kicks off at 6 p.m.