In her collegiate debut, freshman midfielder Emma Jones (25) is knocked down from retrieving the ball in a game against Stephen F. Austin Friday, Sept. 4. 2020 at the Bobcat Soccer Complex.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Sept. 6 with quotes from Kat Conner and Emma Jones. 

In its annual Teal Match and the first game of the season, Texas State lost 2-1 to SFA in a tightly contested battle.

The Bobcats came out strong in the first half, controlling possession of the ball and setting the pace of the game.

Senior midfielder Mackenzie Smith fired off a low shot in the middle of the goal in the 14th minute, but SFA senior goalkeeper Madeline Talbot secured the shot.

In the 16th minute, freshman midfielder Emma Jones attacked the defense, cutting in from the left wing to her right foot before curling the ball past the keeper into the corner of the far post to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. Fellow freshman midfielder Trinity Clark was credited with the assist.

“Honestly, I don’t even remember, I just remember taking a shot, looking up and just seeing it go in,” Jones said.

SFA took over in the second half, keeping the ball opposite from their goal and shooting 11 shots compared to Texas State’s six.

In the 63rd minute, graduate defender Carli Arthurs of SFA shot the ball high into the net over the outstretched arms of freshman goalkeeper Beth Agee to even the score 1-1. After the goal, Texas State lost its momentum as the Lady Jacks set the pace for the remainder of regulation.

Texas State Soccer Head Coach Kat Conner thought the sloppy play of her team in the second half is what led to the SFA goal.

“We kind of lost our composure a bit in the second half,” Conner said. “We needed to keep possession a bit. We forced things when we didn’t have to, which kind of set us up into counterattack. We’ve got to clean that up a little bit. We’ve gotta be a little more patient and really make sure our passing angles are wide enough so we can find each other.”

Conner says she regretted the choice to force key passes against SFA over slower build-up play.

“Maybe we should have kept it a little bit more and played the open player instead of just forcing it forward,” Conner said. “SFA plays a direct style with a high backline, we were kinda going for the gusto all the time, and we’ve got to learn that’s a cat-mouse game, and we can’t do that constantly.”

In the first overtime period, Texas State came out aggressive, shooting five shots while SFA only got off one. However, Talbot stayed strong and the Bobcats were unable to score.

The second overtime saw SFA come out and dominate possession, keeping the Bobcat defenders on their heels the entire period. Just as the game seemed it was going to end in a draw, SFA senior midfielder Katelyn Termini snuck in a goal with nine seconds left, beating Texas State 2-1.

After the game wrapped up, Conner expressed pride in the loss and valued it as a learning experience.

“I’m proud of them though,” Conner said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have our August matches, so now we’ve gotta regroup and learn from this and go back out on Sunday and put it together again.”

Conner also highlighted the important contributions from many of the freshmen starting and coming off the bench throughout the game.

“Haley Shaw came on, had some good minutes to give us that flank play,” Conner said. “Trinity and Alana Clark really played well.”

Despite the loss, Jones says she enjoyed the increased pace of the college game in comparison to her high school years.

“It was really fun, it was fast, I expected it,” Jones said. “There’s some things we need to work on, but it was a good, fast game.”

While they didn’t score, senior midfielder Renny Moore kept the pressure on SFA with three shots each. In her collegiate debut, Agee racked up seven saves from SFA’s nine shots on target.

“(Agee) was phenomenal,” Conner said. “She gave up two goals, but to tell you the truth, the shots that she did save were not goals. She was phenomenal. I think we got a good one back there, and she’s only gonna get better and better. ”

Conner says the team plans to work on tactics and possession before going up against Houston Baptist next.

“We need to regroup, defensively we need to get back together and lock people into the areas we want to lock them in to,” Conner said. “Possession wise, we need to understand when to go forward and when to build a little bit more. ”

Texas State will travel to Houston Baptist for its next game Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

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