The Texas State soccer team closed out its season losing to number one seed Western Kentucky in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament Nov. 10, but showed solid progress throughout the season overall.
The team finished the season 9–9–2 and developed well at the end of the schedule riding a season-long three-game winning streak into the conference tournament. Freshmen forwards Lauren Prater and Maddie Nichols both made an immediate impact during the season. Nichols scored the game-winning goal against Troy in overtime, and Prater started both tournament games flashing some of her speed against Western Kentucky, nearly scoring a goal.
The club is young with only five of its 24 players on the roster graduating. The team leader in goals was sophomore forward Lynsey Curry, scoring seven goals and holding a top 10 position in all major statistical categories in the Sun Belt. Junior Tori Hale was second in the Sun Belt in assists after changing positions from midfielder to forward.
The team did not reach its ultimate goal of making it to the NCAA tournament, but with such a young team and a transition to a new conference, the Bobcats improved well down the stretch.
Mentally, transitioning from the Western Athletic Conference to the Sun Belt was an obstacle, especially with such a short adjustment period, as the Bobcats had never played most of these teams before. While in the WAC, Texas State had to face teams that used more of a one-versus-one attack strategy to try and move the offense down the middle of the field. The Sun Belt Conference teams are more strategic and use the whole field during the attack.
Texas State had a rocky middle part of the season as the team had one victory in seven contests. The Bobcats faced stiff competition during that span against Oklahoma, Rice and Texas.
It was not until the last two regular season games when veterans like senior forward Gabbie Cottee stepped up, scoring two goals in two games. Cottee then scored a goal in the opening round of the tournament against Troy. Cottee’s sudden offensive streak earned her Sun Belt Player of the Week during that period.
The Bobcats struggled on offense most of the year, relying mainly on Curry. In the latter half of the season, the team scored eight goals in three games, the same number of goals it scored earlier in the season during a 10-game span.
Texas State peaked at the right time earning two clutch wins in the last two games of the season to jump from seventh to fourth in the Sun Belt standings. After losing to ninth place Louisiana-Monroe 2-1, the Bobcats looked deflated and lost momentum from their season, but Coach Kat Conner brought their spirits up to grab a top-four seed.
The Bobcats showed signs of improvement throughout the season, and Conner made the proper adjustments to improve the team even through its rough patches.
Texas State had a solid season overall with a mix of youth and senior leadership. The season was a good start for a better club in the future and a solid way to jump in the team’s inaugural season in the Sun Belt.