JONESBORO, AR (astateredwolves.com) — A shot off the foot of Sutton Wester was the only goal the Arkansas State soccer team needed Sunday afternoon as the Red Wolves' defense stepped up to help the squad to a 1-0 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at the A-State Soccer Park.
"I thought this is one of those character wins that a team needs early in the year," A-State head coach Brian Dooley said. "It was a game in which they (UAPB) forced us to struggle and that is what I liked about our team is that we found a way to get past all that. After a tough situation at Southern Miss with delays and overtimes and just get enough rest, I thought the team faced that challenge well and then withstood the challenge that UAPB threw at us."
Wester's goal in the seventh minute was setup by a fantastic throw in from freshman midfielder Kassie Flynn, who whit the hit the head of junior Ava Abner with the throw. Abner flicked the ball onto junior Katherine Padgett, who delivered a header pass to Wester, who then got control of the ball and sent it into the net for the game's only goal.
The Red Wolves (1-0) had three more solid chances in the box during the first half. In the 21st minute, freshman Arianna Delli Carpini took a strike on goal that Cowles was able to stop, but could not control the rebound which found the foot of senior Loren Mitchell who sent in a shot on target, but was collected by UAPB (0-1) goalkeeper Makayla Cowles to keep Arkansas State from adding to its lead.
Wester also had an opportunity in the 37th minute with a good looking header shot that sailed just wide of the net.
The Red Wolves peppered UAPB with nine shots in the first half, forcing Cowles (0-1) so make four saves. A-State's defense allowed just two shots in the first, only one of which landed on target.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff turned up the pressure in the second half and forced A-State sophomore goalkeeper Alexis Philippe (1-0) to make two saves in the first six minutes of the match. Philippe made five saves in the second half, none bigger than in the 70th minute when Ciera Fenwick put two shots on goal that Philippe was able to keep from crossing the endline to ensure A-State would win its 2015 season opener.
The clean sheet was the first of Philippe's collegiate career while playing a full 90 minutes in net. The sophomore combined with Amanda Lee in a shutout during her freshman season as well.
The Red Wolves had changes in the second half to increase their lead. Redshirt sophomore Jacquiline Greer had a shot in the 67th minute that just sailed high of the goal and came back with a dangerous header in 73rd minute that Cowles was able to just get her finger tips on and deflect it out of harm's way.