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Soccer: Manuel’s Late Goal Gives Cajuns Weekend Sweep

Nick Ross, October 13, 2013

Contact: Nick Ross
LAFAYETTE, La. – Sophomore forward Elizabeth Manuel notched her first goal of the season in the 71st minute to give the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns their first and only goal of the match, and propel them to a 1-0 Sun Belt Conference victory over Arkansas State on Sunday at the Cajun Soccer Complex.
"Today’s game was a classic hard-fought Sun Belt game in the middle of conference play," head coach Scot Wieland said following the win.  "We did not play our best in the first half with our possession and our passing.  They gave us a look that we hadn’t seen in a little bit.
"The second half we played with a lot more composure," Wieland added.  "Our possession and passing was better, our forwards held the ball better and we worked harder.  It was a grinder of a game and the girls played well and fought hard."
Manuel scored off of a corner kick play, with assists going to Annika Schmidt and Grace Howell-Harries.
"It was kind of a slow start but we picked it up in the second half," Howell-Harries said after the game.  "We came out strong, possessed the ball and finally put it in the back of the net in the second half.  This puts us in a great position to finish strong going into the conference tournament."
The goalkeeping duo of Cory DeMarco and Kendall Graham continued their solid play, posting their third combined shutout of the season.  DeMarco got the start and made just one save in the first half, before yielding to Graham for the final 45 minutes.
Graham came in and withheld the clean sheet, making five saves and picking up her first career win as a member of the Ragin’ Cajuns.
"They like the system and have embraced it," Wieland said of his two-goalkeeper tandem.  "[DeMarco and Graham] both are settled in and have embraced doing their jobs.  They don’t want to let the team down and combine for a complete game."
The Cajuns had constant pressure on the net for the first half, outshooting the Red Wolves 12-5, and 4-1 in shots on goal, but neither team could find the back of the net.
Despite going without a goal, Yazmin Montoya continued her strong play as of late.  The freshman had the Cajuns’ best offensive threat in the first half, sending a shot off the crossbar in the 19th minute.
She would finish the day with a team-high eight shots and two on goal.
It wasn’t until the 71st minute of the contest that Manuel gave the Cajuns the only goal they would need.
Montoya sent a corner kick into the box that was cleared out by the ASU defense.  Howell-Harries picked up the clearing on the left side of the 18-yard box and crossed it over to Schmidt, who immediately passed it down-low to Manuel, who wasted no time putting it into the back of the net.
"She has played really well this year," Wieland said of Manuel.  "We knew that with her up top we get a physical and fast player.  She got to the place where she was supposed to be and did her job.  That is what we are teaching is being ready and  in place to take care of business, and that is exactly what she did.
It was the sophomore’s fifth career goal and 13th career point.
Howell-Harries added an assist for a three-point weekend after scoring her second career goal on Friday.  One of the team’s two captains, she has five points on the season and has yet to miss a minute of action, playing in 1,316 minutes this season.
"So far the season has been very good," Howell-Harries said of her season on defense.  "Overall our back line is playing strong and even though we are young they stepped up.  I can’t take credit for anything because our team is playing so well this year.  It has been a very positive season and it has only gotten better."
Schmidt’s assist improved her school-record of points in a season to 23, which is second in the conference.  She is also tied for the conference lead in goals with 10.
The Cajuns return to the pitch on Friday, Oct. 18 when Texas State comes to town for the second-to-last home match of the season.  The Cajuns will have Sunday off before heading to Mobile, Ala., to take on South Alabama on a Thursday evening match on Oct. 24, before finishing up the regular season on Sunday, Oct. 27 against Troy at the Cajun Soccer Complex.
The annual Sun Belt Conference tournament will open play on Nov. 6, in San Marcos, Texas, with the champion being crowned on Sunday, Nov. 10.