Portland State soccer had been unlucky not to register a goal this season. The offense had progressed since the first exhibition game, but still after 270 minutes — 180 of which came in exhibitions —the Vikings couldn't find the back of the net.
On Sunday morning in Texas, the luck finally changed as the Vikings tallied two goals to get back to .500 on the season.
"Finally seeing the ball hit the back of the net was definitely a great feeling," head coach Katie Burton said. "But more importantly was the progress we made to get there. Saturday we worked on finishing difficult balls and it paid off."
The pressure was applied early and often by Portland State, which led to the breakthrough. After recording three shots in the first 10 minutes, the Vikings finally scored by way of junior defender Maxine Nagramadain the 14th minute.
The athletic defender moved her way up the wide left and then cut inside. She was met by a pair of TSU defenders, but dipped inside and hit a laser toe ball into the upper corner of the net for a highlight reel goal to start the year.
"Max is very good off the dribble and didn't have enough time to get a full shot off, but she's been consistently tinkering with a toe ball in practice, building a good habit that gave her a much needed result for the squad," Burton said.
After chances for both sides that were all saved, it looked like the Vikings would double their lead in the 36th minute by way of a penalty kick. Alexis Robles made the save for Texas Southern, but the Vikings were ready to pounce. Freshman Jadyn Harris was the first to the ball and played it back post where senior Jacky Huchler headed home the second of the day for Portland State.
Huchler, who Burton said had been putting in extra work on the header the past two days, scored just eight minutes after she came into the match as a substitute. She was one of a number of substitutes to contribute in the match, a key to the team's success.
"Our bench today was essential to this win," Burton said. "Everyone contributed, many of which we asked to play multiple roles. They all stepped up and raised the energy level when we needed it. We could not have gotten this result without them."
Texas Southern switched goalies in the second half, and in turn kept the Vikings from scoring any more, but senior goalkeeper Abbie Faingold and the Vikings defense turned away every threat and held on for the shutout.
The defense clamped down in the second half, allowing just one shot on goal. Faingold finished the game with five total saves. Once again, the Vikings showed the tough and gritty playstyle that Burton is looking for, picking up 13 fouls while also receiving three yellow cards.
"Abbie was excellent between the posts," Burton said. "Texas Southern gained some offensive momentum in the second half getting into a few 1v1 situations. Abbie came up big time, as well as our back line. Max had a great clearance off the line after Abbie made two essential saves that created an energy that our team rode to the end of the game."
The Vikings will be back in action next week. They travel to Spokane, Wash. to take on Gonzaga on Aug. 24 before returning to Hillsboro Stadium for the first regular season match at home against CSUN on Aug. 26. There is still much to be done for Burton and the Vikings before then.
"Moving forward we are looking to redefine our movement offensively and defensively in the midfield," Burton said. "It is a new formation so there is a huge learning curve. They are taking well to our information and progressing every game."
MATCH NOTES: The Vikings are now 1-0 all-time against Texas Southern … Jacky Huchler scored her first career goal in the 36th minute. She had recorded just six combined shots over the last two years after dealing with injuries … On Huchler's goal, freshman Jadyn Harris recorded her first career assist … Maxine Nagramada's 14th minute goal was the third of her career … Abbie Faingold recorded her 12th career shutout … The Vikings recorded a season-high 17 shots including seven on goal.