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    Ladyjacks Look to Pull Ahead
    Amanda Alders
    Amanda Alders

    Oct. 20, 2005

    NACOGDOCHES, Texas - As geographically close as Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State are to one another -- their respective towns of Nacogdoches, Texas and Natchitoches, La. are separated by only about 120 miles -- the two Southland Conference schools have been even closer on the soccer field this season. After tying with one another for the top spot in the SLC preseason coaches' poll, the two programs have practically run a dead heat this year, and currently sit atop the conference standings with identical 4-0 league records. Friday, each team will get a prime opportunity to move ahead of the other in the race for the SLC title.

    The Ladyjacks (11-3-0, 4-0-0) will host Northwestern State (9-4-1, 4-0-0) in a 7 p.m. match Friday at the SFA Intramural Complex. The two teams share more than just their conference records. SFA and Northwestern hold the top two spots in the conference statistics for goals, goals per game, points and shots. The Ladyjacks and Lady Demons also carry the best current winning streaks in the conference. SFA has won its last eight matches, while Northwestern has reeled off five straight wins.

    "It's going to be an exciting match because both teams are undefeated," SFA head coach Jaime Frias said. "There's no question the players are going to be motivated. They know what this game means to them.

    "An undefeated conference season is at stake -- possibly a conference championship. With only one game against each opponent, we told the kids at the beginning of the season it would probably take an undefeated season to win conference."

    The Lady Demons are coming off a 4-2 home win over Texas State last Friday. Northwestern jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before securing the win with a late goal in the second half. The team's two leading scorers -- Julie Zavala and Erin Hebert -- each notched goals in the win.

    "Northwestern is a blue-collar, hard-nosed team," Frias said. "They play simple soccer, but what they do, they do well."

    The Ladyjacks won two matches last weekend, knocking off Sam Houston at home, 6-1, then going on the road to defeat Centenary, 1-0. Freshman Amanda Alders, whose 12 goals lead both her team and the conference, scored a goal in each match to extend her streak of games with a goal to eight. Alders was one of six different Ladyjacks to score against Sam Houston, and that's the kind of goal distribution Frias likes to see in his team.

    "The great thing about our team is that different people come through each game," the coach said. "That's what makes this team so dangerous and tough to handle. If you shut somebody down, there are 10 more people who step up."

    At the other end of the field, goalkeeper Natascia Michalezki has been rock solid. The senior has recorded 72 saves and seven shutouts this season, while compiling a 10-3 record. Michalezki has allowed just two goals during her team's eight-game winning streak.

    After Friday's match with the Lady Demons, SFA will host McNeese State in a 2 p.m. contest on Sunday before wrapping up the regular season with a road trip to Monroe, La. to take on the Lady Indians on Oct. 28.

    -- SFA --