Behind another impressive rushing effort and a defense that held Valdosta State to two yards…
Just two minutes after an Arkansas State penalty kick goal leveled the score late in regulation, senior Izzi Wood sprinted free on a breakaway and delivered on the finish, to lift App State to a 2-1 road victory and secure a spot in the Sun Belt Tournament.
With App leading 1-0 with 10 minutes to play in the contest, Arkansas State served a free kick into the box. Goalkeeper Kerry Eagleston handled the service with ease, but on the play, a player from each team got tangled up in the box, and the referees awarded the Red Wolves a penalty kick, on which they would convert to tie the score.
After seeing a one-goal lead slip away, the Mountaineers remained steadfast. On a goal kick with just over seven minutes to play, Eagleston drove the ball towards midfield. Summer Bowman flicked a header forward and Stephanie Barbosa then tapped a pass ahead to a streaking Wood, who raced past the Red Wolves defense and fired a shot into the back of the net to re-gain the lead for the Mountaineers.
“I’m so proud of the team for their resilience today in a tough game on the road,” said head coach Aimee Haywood. “They have worked hard all season and I’m so happy to see it pay off in another tournament berth. We still have one more game left and we want to keep climbing.”
Sunday’s victory secured a spot as one of the ten teams in the Sun Belt Tournament field in Foley, Ala. next week, but the Mountaineers still have the opportunity to earn a bye into the quarterfinals when they face Georgia State in their regular season finale on Thursday .
App State (8-5-3, 5-2-2) opened the scoring in the 58th minute of play. Olivia Simon had her crossing attempt cleared to the top of the box, but right to Bowman, who curled a pass to the far post where Sarah Widderich volleyed it in for her first goal of the season. Bowman finished the match with a pair of assists.
App State matched a season-high with 23 shots in the match, including nine shots on target, led by six from Wood and four from Lela Stark. Wood’s goal was her seventh of the season and 15th of her career, which moves her into a tie for ninth place in program history.
Eagleston recorded four saves in the match, with her first stop of the day marking her 400th career save. She is the active Division I leader in saves by a goalkeeper.
App State’s eighth win of the season is their most since a nine-win campaign in 2018. The Mountaineers will look to match that mark on Thursday night in Atlanta, Ga., when they close the regular season against the Panthers at 6 p.m. The Match will be broadcast on ESPN+.