THIBODAUX, La. – Hoping to hold on to the best start in team history, the Nicholls State University women’s soccer team opened Southland Conference play on Friday afternoon and behind the first-ever hat trick for sophomore Spencer Valdespino, the Colonels defeated McNeese State 3-0 to keep the squad undefeated on the season and push Nicholls to its seventh win – the most ever in program history.
With the win, the Colonels (7-0-1, 1-0 SLC) snapped a five-year conference losing skid which dated back to the 2008 season, as the last conference victory came on Oct. 21, 2007 against Lamar. It is the second time that a Nicholls squad opened conference play with a win, as is it also the first victory over McNeese State (5-3-1, 0-1) since defeating the Cowgirls in Lake Charles on Sept. 26, 2004.
Nicholls has also secured the longest winning streak in team history, which now stands at six games.
Valdespino secured the second Nicholls hat trick of the season on Friday, duplicating the feat Jess Coates attained in the season opener, to give her a team-leading eight goals on the year as the Spring Hill, Fla., native has scored in each of the last five matches. The Colonels continue to share the ball as well, as Hannah Savoie assisted on the first goal and Amber Moore on the second.
Earning the start for the first time since getting injured against ULM, Nicholls goalie Amanda Boylson (3-0-1) netted a new career achievement of her own as she earned the first shutout of her career in her third win of the season, stopping six McNeese State shots on the day. The Cowgirls outshot the Colonels 14-6 during the match, with six shots on goal to four for Nicholls.
Play was physical throughout, as there were a total of 29 fouls and three yellow cards given out during play on Friday.
After ten minutes of the two teams gauging each other’s play, the Colonels were on the attack and Savoie fought through a throw in to gain possession and passed it to Valdespino who fired a shot to the far post from 15 yards out to give Nicholls the 1-0 lead.
With the ball just past midfield, Moore fired a shot high into the box, high enough for Valdespino to get a head on it from about six yards away, and although it originally appeared as a save, the ball came off the fingertips of the goalie and in to make it a 2-0 advantage.
The sophomore forward shut the door in the second half, as in the 63rd minute she broke away from two defenders and chipped a shot over the head of the McNeese goalkeeper to give the Colonels the three goal lead and net her third of the match.
Nicholls will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, hitting the road to take on the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders at 1 p.m.