ABILENE, Texas - The Abilene Christian seniors could not have asked for a better send off as a complete-team effort carried the Wildcats to a brilliant 3-1 victory over Incarnate Word Sunday at the Wildcat Soccer Pitch.
On offense, senior and three-time all-America capitalized on a pair of brilliant first-half passes from and , and then made it a 3-0 game after heading in senior 's corner kick in the 48th minute.
The defense, meanwhile, withstood a furious second-half attack by the Cardinals, in which they fired 14 shots and six corner kicks. UIW's lone goal came in the 81st minute when a determined Abigail Koenigs dribbled the ball from the endline back into the penalty box, from where she struck a sharp diagonal over the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper .
UIW (9-6, 3-5 Southland) had several more good looks at the net over the final nine minutes, but a defender blocked one shot and Dombrowski saved two others to finish the match with five.
"Incarnate Word is an extremely talented team and it was great to see our team rise up to the challenge that they presented," said ACU head coach . "They came out real strong in the first 10 minutes, but once the game started to calm down we started to play great defense and kind of figured out what we could and couldn't do."
Only one shot was taken during the first 10 minutes and that was a blocked attempt by Koenigs in the eighth minute. ACU wouldn't record its first shot until seven minutes later, but it proved to be a classic finish by Carpenter as she took Lindholm's pass from up the middle, turned the corner and fired an uncontested blast past starting goalkeeper Heather Kowalik.
Twenty minutes later, Carpenter made it a 2-0 game after she got up just high enough to head a deep pass by Roberts over the top of Kowalik and one of her defenders.
"On that second goal I kept waiting for a foul to be call because I was being pushed," said Carpenter. "But after I noticed the ball was in the net, I decided to let it go … I couldn't ask for a better day for this team. It was a good game to play and I'm so proud of the way we competed."
UIW started to press again on offense to start the second half, but seconds after the Cardinals sent their first shot wide of the net was presented with a corner kick, which she sent up and over to the far post. With no defender protecting that side of the net, Sumrall butted the ball down over the line for her fourth goal of the season.
Carpenter's goals today were her second and third of the weekend, 11th and 12th of the season, and 54th and 55th of her illustrious career. The second goal also gave her 30 points for the third time in four years, raising her career total to 125.
"I'm sure this day and this win meant a great deal to Andrea," said Wilson. "She's the ultimate team player, and I felt that she would want to put a couple in today just because of the competitor that she is … Sumrall, too, had a big weekend for us, and with all the missed opportunities we had Friday, I think our team today rectified some of those as we finished more of our chances."
Carpenter, along with Craig, Lindholm, , and were celebrated during a Senior Day pre-match ceremony. In their four years as Wildcats, the program has won 75 percent of all its matches (58-18-4), including two Lone Star Conference Championships and three NCAA Tournament matches.
"I tired not to think about this being our last home match and I wasn't that sad before the game," said Carpenter. "But then we came into our locker room and all the underclassmen had it decorated, and then they took over the pre-game speech, started talking us up, and that's when the water works started to fall. I felt good again lining up and we went out there ready to play. It was a fun game."
The Wildcats return to action Friday and Sunday with matches at Lamar and McNeese State to close out their 2013 campaign. As first-year members of NCAA Division I and the Southland Conference, the Wildcats are ineligible for any postseason competition; however, ACU can still win the league's regular-season title.
The second-place Wildcats (13-3-1, 7-3 Southland) are currently three points behind leader Stephen F. Austin for first place with two matches left to play, while the Ladyjacks have remaining matches at Central Arkansas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Incarnate Word.
Because of a quirk in the schedule, ACU will be the only Southland program to finish its regular season this coming weekend.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.