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Bulldogs drop conference opener

Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Bulldogs drop conference opener

The Louisiana Tech soccer team lost its Conference USA opener at New Mexico State on Sunday. Photo by Darrell James

The Louisiana Tech soccer team battled back from a two-goal deficit to tie the match up on the road, but New Mexico State ended up prevailing by a score of 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at the New Mexico State Soccer Athletic Complex.

In a matchup between two of the top three teams in the preseason poll, Tech (3-6-1, 0-1-0 C-USA) ended up on the losing side in a hard-fought game with New Mexico State (4-51, 1-0-0 C-USA) in the league opener.

The home Aggies struck first in the 15th minute, attacking the left flank and finding open space in the box with a shot that got past the leaping effort of the goalkeeper in the upper-left corner.

That one- goal advantage lasted up until halftime, but doubled in the 48th minute when a quick counterattack led to the pass sequence that was ultimately put away from close range. In the span of one minute though, Tech tied things up.

First, it was a converted penalty kick by Lauren Egbuloniu in the 50th minute after she was taken down in the box. It was Egbuloniu again moments later making things happen.

After Kalli Matlock won the ball at midfield, she played it forward to Egbuloniu who fired a bullet on goal. The shot was saved by the diving keeper, but Avery Kyle came charging up the left side and drilled a rocket with the left foot to equalize.

The Aggies jumped back in front though in the 70th minute after a set piece was headed into the net inside the six.

They tacked on another in the 86th minute when a shot was rifled off the crossbar, but the rebound was scored into an empty net.

There was no quit in the Bulldogs though as they got to within one after Carmen Suarez converted a penalty kick after a handful was called on New Mexico State in the 87th minute. Tech generated a couple of chaotic set pieces in the closing minutes but could not equalize for a second time.

“They kept competing non- stop and there was no quit in this group,” Tech head coach Steve Voltz said. “We tied it up within five minutes early in the second half after going down two goals. We are working hard, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Proud of our effort. It is tough to go on the road to get a result and we almost had one. Just some individual errors hurt us.”

The Bulldogs will have a chance for their first conference win against Jacksonville State on Thursday in Ruston.