HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Lady Hornets soccer team will have an opportunity to improve their conference seeding for the impending SWAC Tournament when Alabama State (6-10-1 overall, 6-3 SWAC) travels to play at Alabama A&M (3-11 overall, 3-6 SWAC) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Soccer Field.
The race is still very much up in the air as the Lady Hornets could wind up as high as the No. 2 seed or drop as low as a No. 6 seed for the SWAC Tournament that begins next Thursday in Huntsville.
ASU trails Howard by just ½ game in the conference standings for the No. 3 seed, however the Lady Hornets hold a potential tie-breaker with the Lady Bison based upon a head-to-head 1-0 victory against them earlier this season.
Howard is finished with SWAC matches so the scenario is simple.
If ASU wins on Friday, they will leapfrog Howard in the conference standings.
ASU could also move down between one and three slots depending upon other outcomes.
Texas Southern and Arkansas Pine-Bluff are each one game behind the Lady Hornets with 5-4 records in conference play, but beat Alabama State in head-to-head meetings this season to earn the tie-breaker.
An ASU loss on Friday would open the door for those teams to surpass them in the standings.
Prairie View A&M hosts Texas Southern on Friday while Arkansas Pine-Bluff plays at Grambling State on Friday.
ASU holds the tie-breaker over Prairie View A&M, who is also 5-4 in conference play.
As for Friday's opponent, Alabama A&M has played better down the stretch with three of their wins coming in the previous five contests including a 2-0 home victory versus Prairie View A&M last Friday.
Goals have been tough to come by for Alabama A&M though as the team has scored just 10 on the season.
Estelle Esperance will be one to watch on the Lady Bulldogs' side as she leads the team with five goals and three assists.
"Our conference has a come a long way," Smith said.
"It's exciting that on any given day anybody can beat anybody. Every game should be an exciting finish. But, If we take care of business on Friday, then it cares of itself. Statistics never matter when we play them [Alabama A&M] so we will have to be prepared to play."
The Lady Hornets have five shutouts in 2015, but have recently been involved in more high-scoring affairs including a 3-2 win this past Sunday against Prairie View A&M on Senior Day.
Junior forward Ariela Lewis
is among the hottest players in the conference for the Lady Hornets.
The Anchorage, Alaskan native has 17 points (five goals and seven assists) in her past six matches including a game-winner on a header in the 85th
minute to seize victory in the match this past Sunday.
"If she [Ariela Lewis
] sees an opportunity, she takes it," Smith said. "We need our offensive players to take care of the ball and be productive and she's certainly has been doing it. Others players have helped, but she has put together the final piece of the equation."
Alabama State: Ariela Lewis
(seven goals), Ar. Lewis (eight assists), Ar. Lewis (22 points), Gianna Guyot
Estelle Esperance (five goals); Esperance (three assists); Esperance (13 points); Marissa Oehler (87 saves).