The Texas State soccer team’s season has now come to a close and the next item on the agenda for the Bobcats is the Sun Belt Conference tournament. This past weekend, the Bobcats won both of their games to propel from eighth place in the Sun Belt to fourth, giving them the fourth seed in the tournament.
The Bobcats’ season has been strange to say the least. The club has shown signs of greatness, but for every step forward there have been two steps back. Throughout the season, the team’s winning streaks or losing stretches never seem to exceed more than three games at the most. A problem the Bobcats need to address as they head into the tournament is playing consistently for 90 minutes against their conference opponents.
For a good part of its October schedule, the soccer team struggled offensively against conference foes. After a late-game 1-0 win against Georgia State Oct. 4, the Bobcats went on a three-game losing streak, including two games that went into double overtime. Throughout the season the Bobcats have been following a pattern of either scoring an early goal only to give up the lead later in the game or finding themselves in a hole early and unable to recover. Although they have been inconsistent, the Bobcats still have a chance at the Sun Belt title.
First, the tournament is being hosted at Texas State. The Bobcats are 5-2-1 at home this season, which is sufficiently better than their 2-6-1 away record. The Bobcats were 3-1 in conference home games this season.
Their only loss came in double overtime against Western Kentucky, who is now the top seed in the Sun Belt tournament.
One of the biggest advantages the soccer team has as they enter into the tournament is strong defensive play at home. The club has only allowed one goal against Sun Belt opponents at the Bobcat Soccer Complex. This is thanks to senior goalkeeper Natalie Gardini and sophomore goalie Caitlin Reinhart, and solid defensive play from junior defender Brenna Smith.
Smith, who won the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week this past week, has been the most consistent defender for the Bobcats. She has started in every game this season and has started a team-high 1,534 minutes this season. In the last game of the season against Arkansas State, Smith and the defense held the Red Wolves to only 10 shots, which is the second fewest allowed by Texas State this season. Sustaining Smith’s defensive play will give Texas State a huge advantage as they face opponents who are fresh on the minds of the Bobcats.
Leading the offensive charge is sophomore forward Lynsey Curry. Curry has been a consistent player for the offense all season. Curry leads the team and ranks in the top 10 in the Sun Belt in shots, goals and points. Any lack of offensive production from the sophomore forward would be detrimental to the team moving forward in the tournament. Her efforts this year have led to the Bobcats being ranked as the top team in the Sun Belt in shots per game.
Behind Curry, another player who has had a recent resurgence is senior forward Gabbi Cottee. Cottee was just awarded the Sun Belt Player of the Week for her two goals over the weekend. Cottee started off the season doing well, but her production disappeared midway through.
Now with the season coming to a close, Cottee’s performance has begun to pick up once again, and she is beginning to play at a level similar to the first few games. Her increase in production can propel her to become a key player in the offense once again. Behind the charge of both Curry and Cottee, the Bobcats’ offense can make a difference in the upcoming tournament.
Texas State faces fifth-seeded Troy Nov. 6 in San Marcos. In their first meeting, the Bobcats defeated the Trojans, 2-1. Hopefully, fans can see a repeat of that performance. If the Bobcats can continue their latest success, anything is possible with the team, especially with a Sun Belt title within grasp.