LORMAN, Mass. - Prior to the start of the 2013 season, McMurry University head women's soccer coach Alan Riches believed the culture within his soccer program was changing.
Change has come.
On Monday The War Hawks secured its biggest win in program history and defeated Division I Alcorn State University 2-1
"It was an absolute gut check," Riches said following the game. "We had six or seven point-blank opportunities in the second half and we couldn't convert. The girls battled through it and I'm extremely proud of them. They deserve this win."
Less than five minutes into overtime, the McM offense played the numbers. On a two-on-one breakaway, Destin Connally (San Angelo, Texas/Angelo State) made a Braves' (0-3) defender commit and she passed it from the right side to a wide-open Aleria Luna (Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville HS) who fired the game-winner into the back of the net.
For Luna, she's happy to return to the Abilene with the win – regardless of who the opponent is.
"It feels pretty good (to get the win) and this will help with our confidence," she said. "The goal was all about team work. Destin (Connally) made the defender commit to her and she passed the ball and I put it away."
McM faced a number of obstacles, which included allowing the first goal of the contest at the 22:43-mark of the first half.
However, the War Hawks responded when Holiday Williams (Bedford, Texas/LD Bell HS) notched it at 1-1 moments before the 79-minute mark of the second half.
"It was very hot and humid," Riches said. "Some of the girls could barely stand towards the end of the game, but they fought through it."
A win over a Division I opponent might be considered a program-changer, but for Riches, the program changed in a 2-1 overtime loss against an elite Northeastern (Okla.) State University team last Friday.
"The program changed Friday night against Northeastern (State). We had a lot of chances and couldn't covert and today was an extension of that," Riches said. "There are some games that always go your way and today we had to fight through it. We faced adversity and we needed to go through this type of swing…we are a stronger program now because of it."
The War Hawks (2-2) return to action Thursday night and play host to the University of the Southwest.
Information for this story provided by McMurry Athletics.