CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's soccer team returns to the road this weekend for a pair of Southland Conference contests. The Islanders will face off with Central Arkansas (3-3-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. before taking on Oral Roberts (7-2-0, 2-0-0 Southland).
The Islanders had a tough opening weekend that saw them take two of the top teams in the Southland to the brink, but fall by one goal each time. A&M-Corpus Christi went toe-to-toe with Southeastern, but a second-half goal lifted the Lady Lions to a 1-0 victory on Friday. Then on Sunday, the Islanders found themselves in a 2-0 hole thanks in part to injuries on the back line, before pressuring undefeated Nicholls to the final whistle in a 2-1 loss.
Freshman Yvette Franco headed home the Islanders' only goal of the weekend in the 2-1 defeat, giving the standout eight goals in eight games for her career. She trails only Nicholls' Spencer Valdespino in the Southland in that category. Audrey Baldwin had 17 saves over the weekend, and leads the league with her 7.5 stops per game.
UCA will make its conference debut on Friday night after a solid non-conference slate that was highlighted by wins over Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. The Bears also defeated Mississippi Valley State and posted draws against Lipscomb and UMKC in their non-conference action. The team is coming off a 3-0 loss to TCU on Sunday.
Adriana Lucar paces the offense with her five goals and 12 points for the Bears, while Brooke Ballard is just behind with four scores and nine points on the season. UCA has outscored its opposition 17-13 on the year. Hayley Romero has seen the bulk of the time in net for the Bears, posting a 0.86 goals-against average and a .769 save percentage on the campaign.
Oral Roberts has gotten off to a strong start on the 2013 campaign, carrying a 7-2-0 mark, including victories over the Southland's top two teams from a season ago. The Golden Eagles' only two defeats have come at the hands of Tulsa (2-0) and Oklahoma (1-0). In its opening conference weekend, ORU knocked off Stephen F. Austin in overtime and defeated Lamar 3-0.
Four players have scored at least four goals for the Golden Eagles, led by Jennifer Abernathy's five scores and 15 points on the year. Mary-Kate Halsmer, who scored the golden goal against SFA, is joined by Megan Giles and Kayla Keller with four goals on the season. In net, ORU has been without projected starter Helen Erb due to injury, but Maddie Rhodes has stepped in and posted a 0.81 GAA and an .810 save percentage in her six games of action.