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Texas State sophomore midfielder Lindsey Salisbury (26) kicks the soccer ball from under Lamar redshirt senior forward Esther Okoronkwo (9) while Texas State freshman midfielder Haley Shaw (19) tries to block Okoronkwo, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at the Bobcat Soccer Complex.

Texas State lost a physical match against a strong Lamar University team, bringing its season tally to 0-2-1.

Texas State looked dominant in possession for several stretches in the first half Sept. 11 at the Bobcat Soccer Complex, but the team was not able to rattle Lamar. The Bobcats often won the ball after pressing heavy touches from the Lamar players attempting to play out of the back, but they could not follow up or create clear chances on Lamar’s momentary instability.

Coach Kat Conner expressed disappointment with the Bobcats’ lack of consistency.

“Again, we’re not playing 90 minutes,” Conner said. ‘That’s the tough part.”

Lamar looked to take advantage of possession errors by the Bobcats but was stifled by a resilient defense. In the 39th minute, a Lamar counter-attack saw senior forward Esther Okoronkwo blast a shot from the top of the box, squirming through freshman goalkeeper Beth Agee’s hands.

Despite the error, Agee racked up six saves against Lamar’s seven shots on target.

“I’m really proud of [Agee]; she’s doing a good job,” Conner said. “Unfortunately that one got snuck under her arm there, but sometimes that happens.”

Many of Texas State’s chances in the first half came via balls from midfield, which would often lead to forwards jostling with defenders as chances fizzled out. The unrefined nature of the attack and its subsequent lack of end product may have given way to sloppy play, as the Bobcats accrued 14 fouls.

The night was not without its stars for the Bobcats, as several freshmen continued to get valuable minutes and experience against tough opponents. Freshmen midfielders Trinity and Alana Clark controlled the game whenever Texas State found itself successful on the field—Trinity Clark as an attacking midfielder in the hole between the striker and wide players, and Alana as the deep-lying playmaker in a double pivot also tasked with protecting the backline.

“The Clarks are learning and controlling that middle for us,” Conner said.

Conner also praised freshmen forward/midfielder Haley Shaw and midfielder Emma Jones’ contributions.

“I think [Shaw] shows good spurts,” Conner said. “Emma Jones showed good spurts. I think they’re learning…It’s a work in progress. They’re young, but they’re soaking it in, and that’s what they’re gonna do at these games.”

Lamar’s tactical adjustments after halftime allowed it to take control of the match, as its periods of passing and chance creation grew as the match went on. Texas State created some opportunities but could never quite seal the deal against a compact Lamar backline and goalkeeper.

Texas State’s best chance to score came in the 50th minute from a layoff pass into the box after a blistering run down the left wing by Jones landed at the feet of senior forward Sydney Kammer. Kammer’s low shot was saved by Lamar sophomore goalkeeper Nicole Panis, who had four saves on the day.

The rest of the game consisted of Texas State struggling to shut down through balls from Lamar’s midfield. The Bobcats witnessed dangerous Lamar counters following skilled dribbling from Lamar forwards when pressed against the touchline.

Texas State’s last scoring opportunity came off a corner kick to Trinity Clark who attempted several shots, all of which were blocked by Lamar defenders.

The game came to an unsuccessful end for Texas State due to its lack of clinical finishing. Texas State only landed four shots on target, despite having one less shot in the total shots column, 17 to Lamar’s 18.

Conner and crew know improvement must happen to survive a difficult conference.

“We’ve got to do better,” Conner said. “We know we got to do better. They know they got to do better. It’s just one of those things about connecting together and engaging with each other to do it together so that we can raise our level.”

Texas State will match up at home against Abilene Christian University at 2 p.m., Sept. 13. The game will stream on ESPN+.

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