RUSTON – The Louisiana Tech soccer team came into its seventh match this season having never trailed.
They trailed twice on Friday night in their home opener. And not only were the Lady Techsters able to equalize both times, the team ended up getting a golden goal by Connor Barker deep into the second overtime period to pull out a 3-2 thriller over McNeese State at Ruston Junior High School.
McNeese State’s (2-2-0) Havana Johnson scored on both goals for the Cowgirls to give them leads of 1-0 and 2-1. However, it was Autumn Woodard and Quinn Parks who netted the equalizers, followed by Barker’s game-winner in the 106th minute on a hot and humid night at LA Tech’s (7-0-0) temporary home.
“I was very appreciative of everyone taking the time and effort to be here,” said head coach Kevin Sherry. “We had a slow start, but the fans got behind us and helped us.
“You always have to believe you can come back. It was just two silly defensive mistakes. We knew if we corrected those errors, we could continue to create chances. I was confident we could come back.”
The Cowgirls dominated possession through the first 20 minutes of the match and jumped on the scoreboard first in the 21st minute when Johnson sent a shot from 20 yards out at the far post.
The score would remain 1-0 in favor of the visiting team at halftime, but LA Tech’s adjustments paid off five minutes deep into the second half when Alexandra LeBlanc found space on the left side and sent a left-footed cross to the top of the keeper box where Woodard headed in the equalizer.
With the goal, the sophomore transfer and reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week made it six straight games with finding the back of the net. It was also her team-leading ninth goal on the team.
The tie was short-lived though for the Lady Techsters as the Cowgirls’ Johnson again gave them the lead after controlling a cross and finishing low at the far post in the 56th minute.
The second equalizer would come in the 72nd minute when Kaylee Zettler controlled the ball in traffic and passed it off to Quinn Parks at the top of the box. The freshman deposited the ball into the low right corner to knot it up at 2-2.
Johnson nearly made it a hat trick with just over five minutes left in regulation, scoring a goal from short range, but she was whistled for being offside and the match would head into overtime, the first OT of the season for both teams.
And both teams had multiple chances in the first and second OT periods, but the match ended in the 106th minute when Woodard made a long run down the right flank. She crossed it into the 18 where Barker flicked the one-touch finish past the keeper.
“What a great goal to win the game,” said Sherry. “We talked to Autumn and Connor about playing to their strengths. When you get the ball, don’t look to play pretty. Get your head down and just go. That is exactly what Autumn did. When one striker moves, the other striker moves with her, and that is exactly what Connor did. What a great cross and a finish.”
Another program record was set as this marked the ninth straight home victory for the Lady Techsters, dating back to last season.
LA Tech held a slim 15-14 shot advantage and totaled nine corner kicks. Freshman goalkeeper Tuva Sallvin subbed into the game in the 61st minute and provided three big saves for her second win in net.
The team will head back out on the road on Sunday, Sept. 8. They will travel to the state of Alabama to take on Montevallo with kickoff set for 1 p.m.