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Texas State sophomore forward/defender Kamaria Williams (3) kicks the ball while being defended during the women’s soccer game against Central Arkansas, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, at the Bobcat Soccer Complex.

Texas State soccer (0-4-1) dropped its game 0-2 to Central Arkansas (2-1-0) after struggling to control the ball and create offensive opportunities.

Poor first touches by the Bobcats limited attacking opportunities, led to turnovers and put Central Arkansas good positions to advance the ball.

The Bears dominated possession from the kick-off. Early on, Central Arkansas was passive, dribbling and passing the ball around on its backline and probing the Bobcat defense. Meanwhile, Texas State did its best to keep up with the pace of Central Arkansas and struggled to settle into the game.

As the game progressed, the Bears became increasingly aggressive on offense and sent through balls to their forwards behind the Bobcat midfielders, leading to early scoring opportunities.

Nine minutes in, Central Arkansas tested freshman goalkeeper Beth Agee with a shot aimed at the bottom-right of the goal, but Agee secured the ball and sent it downfield.

Texas State struggled to find its offense in the first. Head Coach Kat Conner attributes this to her players being too hesitant.

“We were holding the ball way too long, and we’re not passing the ball quick enough,” Conner said. “They were attacking us and stripping us of the ball, so [we] gotta be faster; it’s just gotta get faster.

Texas State had some close shots at goal in the first. Just before the 15-minute mark, sophomore forward/midfielder Kiara Gonzales made a deep run after a successful tackle and made an attempt at the bottom left of the goal. The attempt was saved by the Bears’ junior goalkeeper Reagan McCombs.

Central Arkansas had a few more chances at goal but none came close to scoring. The last scoring opportunity of the first half came by way of a rebound after Texas State failed to clear the ball. Central Arkansas’ sophomore midfielder Emma Hawkins sent a strong shot to the bottom center of the goal, but Agee made a diving save to close out the half 0-0.

To end the half, the Bears had the advantage in nearly every statistical category. The Bears led with eight shots (four on goal) to Texas State’s three (one on goal). The team led in corners with two to the Bobcats’ zero.

Things quickly went south for the Bobcats to start the second half. Central Arkansas sent a corner kick to the center of the box, and sophomore midfielder Abby Gibson connected with the back of the net to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

“I hate to give up a goal that early, and it’s not good psychologically that we did that, but I thought the players responded very well,” Conner said. “It kind of woke them up to show them that, ‘Hey, yeah. We’re in a game, let’s go.’ So I thought they responded well.”

After the goal, Texas State managed to get off several shots past the defense, but they were all either off-target or saved by the keeper. The Bobcats’ aggression soon dissipated as Central Arkansas weathered the storm and regained control of the game.

The Bears put the nail in the coffin when a perfectly placed cross found the head of junior defender Taylor Webb, who then put the ball into the net to give Central Arkansas a 2-0 lead over the ‘Cats.

The final stat line had Texas State with nine shots (four on goal), six fouls, one corner and two offsides calls. Central Arkansas had 15 shots (seven on goal), seven fouls and six corners.

Despite giving up two goals, Agee was once again the standout for the ‘Cats with five saves.

Conner thinks the team has all the physical tools to win. She believes the Bobcats will have to step up their tactical play and close out games.

“We are trying to use our physical legs and outwork people, but we are not using our brains with our legs,” Conner said. “So we are trying to get them to put both together. We have very intelligent young women, but it is time that they’ve got to put both things together.”

Texas State will play at home against Louisiana Lafayette at 1 p.m. on Sept. 20.

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