Signature soccer win for McNeese; Cowgirls celebrate historic victory

<p class="p1">While the McNeese State soccer team enjoyed a much-deserved day off one day after earning a 3-2 overtime victory against Arkansas, head coach Drew Fitzgerald took some time to reflect on what he called a historic win for the program.

<p class="p1">The victory marked the first time the Cowgirls (3-1) have ever hosted a Power 5 conference team, and they made the most of the big stage with a dramatic one-goal victory in the second overtime with a rebound into the net by Hanava Johnson.

{{tncms-inline content="&amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p1&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;span class=&amp;quot;s1&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;strong&amp;gt;‘It puts us on the map, for sure.’&amp;lt;/strong&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/span&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt; &amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p2&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;strong&amp;gt;Drew Fitzgerald&amp;lt;/strong&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt; &amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p3&amp;quot;&amp;gt;McNeese head coach&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt; &amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p3&amp;quot;&amp;gt;on team’s victory over Arkansas &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;" id="b128fd49-77be-45d1-9205-6769d36b0d5b" style-type="quote" title="Pull Quote" type="relcontent"}}

<p class="p1">After giving up a 2-1 lead in the final minute of regulation Fitzgerald said more than anything he was impressed with the mental toughness his team displayed facing such a big obstacle against such a high-caliber opponent.

<p class="p1">“I was just impressed with our girls not let that affect us,” Fitzgerald said. “We could have gone into overtime and just quit. That was heartbreaking. But they kept battling.”

<p class="p1">Fitzgerald pointed out the performance of freshman backup goalkeeper Gabrielle Christy, who got her first minutes in a collegiate game after replacing starter Emma Roccaforte who left the game in the 32nd minute after a collision with her teammate Nola Prickett.

<p class="p1">It’s hard to argue the significance of such a victory, which Fitzgerald referred to one of the most significant nonconference win in the program’s history.

<p class="p1">“It gives us attention we haven’t had,” he said. “It puts us on the map, for sure. We’re going to enjoy this time until Tuesday.”

<p class="p1">That’s all the time the Cowgirls have to celebrate before turning their attention to their next opponent in Louisiana-Monroe, which they host Friday at 7 p.m.

<p class="p1">Fitzgerald even said he had a coaching colleague at another SEC school that reminded him that his challenge now is to get his team refocused.

<p class="p1">“We’re enjoy it right now watching the videos of the goals, but come (Tuesday) it’s time to focus on UL-Monroe,” Fitzgerald said. “If you go and start dropping games you think you should win, it doesn’t matter. But if you can use it as a springboard for the program, then it’s great.”

<p class="p1">Fitzgerald said there’s something to learn from every game McNeese plays, and Sunday night he learned just how tough his team is and how much potential the Cowgirls have.

<p class="p1">He got a hint a week prior when the Cowgirls fought Big 12 opponent TCU in a 1-0 losing effort, but their performance against the Razorbacks sealed his assurance this team can make a big splash this season.

<p class="p1">“We knew we had a good team, but when go out and battle and you see your team can fight a team like that, I think it gives us all the confidence that what we’re seeing is right,” Fitzgerald said. “It wasn’t a pretty game, and we’ve struggled in the past when teams play real direct with us. We handled it really well (Sunday) night.”

<p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>‘It puts us on the map, for sure.’</strong></span>

<p class="p2"><strong>Drew Fitzgerald</strong>

<p class="p3">McNeese head coach

<p class="p3">on team’s victory over Arkansas 

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