MURRAY, KY (AStateRedWolves.com) – The Arkansas State women's soccer team bolted to a three-goal lead in the opening 57 minutes and then held off a second half rally by Murray State to win 3-2 at Cutchin Field Friday afternoon.
The win was the first opening day victory on the road for A-State (1-0) in program history and the first time since 2009 that it had posted a victory in a regular season opener. The Red Wolves are now 8-7-3 all-time in season openers.
"I'm pleased we were able to win the opening game for the first time in five years," A-State soccer coach Tafadzwa Ziyenge said. "The girls put up a tremendous fight today. We realize we have a lot to work on and didn't exactly play our best game, but winning your first game on the road is massive. Keep in mind in 2013 we only won two games away from home and we are already halfway there."
A-State opened the scoring in the 25th minute on a penalty kick after being taken down in the box by the Racers' (0-1) Nyomi Devine. Simao connected with a kick that sailed by goalkeeper Savanna Haberman for the Red Wolves' first successful penalty kick since the 2012 season.
The Red Wolves doubled their lead less than eight minutes later as Loren Mitchell scored on a breakaway at the top of the box and beat the goalkeeper for an easy tap in goal. It was the 20th career goal for Mitchell, who now stands alone in third place on the Red Wolves' all-time career goals scored list.
A-State added to its lead in the 57th minute when Simao was tackled inside the box for a second time and was awarded another penalty kick. The senior connected again, notching the first multi-goal game of her career and what proved to be the second game-winning goal in her time at Arkansas State.
In the 67th minute, Murray State's Lyssie Wright chipped a shot past true freshman goalkeeper Sara Wicks to cut the lead to 3-1. The Racers' struck again in the 88th minute after Julie Mooney dribbled past three defenders and scored in the lower left corner to cut the deficit to one goal.
A-State regained its composure for the final two minutes and retook the possession advantage to hold on for the one goal victory.
Murray State finished with a 22-10 edge in shots and a 10-7 advantage in shots on goals. The Racers also held the lead in corners 8-4 but were called for offsides four times compared to A-State's one time.
Wicks made eight saves in her collegiate debut in goal, while Simao led the Red Wolves' in shots with four. Katie Hosea and Loren Mitchell had two shots each, while Jena' Kelley and Briana Williams had one shot each.
A-State returns to Jonesboro for its home opener against Tulsa Sunday afternoon at the A-State Soccer Complex, located off the Marion Berry Parkway adjacent to the A-State Tennis Complex and intramural fields. The game can be seen in the StateZone with a paid subscription and fans can get up to the second updates via Twitter by following @AStateGameDay. For the latest on Arkansas State soccer follow the team on Twitter (@AStateSoccer) and Facebook (Arkansas State University Soccer).