All the TWU Pioneers needed to break their four-game losing streak was a three-minute, 23-second burst of offense.
Sophomore Candice Davies scored in the 58th minute and senior Brittany Martin scored her team-leading 10th goal of the season in the 61st minute as the Pioneers defeated the Eastern New Mexico Zias 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at the TWU Soccer Field.
Head coach Fleur Benatar utilized a revamped midfield that led to several second-half opportunities, and she said she was relieved to finally get back in the win column.
“It was very refreshing,” she said. “Your hopes can swing one way or the other very fast. A lot of emotions go on in the 90 minutes.”
Coming off three consecutive shutout losses, where they were outscored 5-0, the Pioneers improved to 6-7-2 on the season and 5-5-1 in Lone Star Conference play.
“We are not going to get anywhere without goals,” Benatar said. “We’ve had opportunities; we just haven’t put them away. It’s definitely a mental thing. The goals today were huge, and when you score and win games, it puts the confidence back into you. We’ve been the better team in a couple of these games, and we haven’t won a couple of them.”
After a scoreless first half that yielded nine shots by TWU — only one on goal — the Pioneers broke their scoreless drought as sophomore Taylor Maxson’s shot rebounded off an Eastern New Mexico defender to Davies, who blasted a shot straight at the kneeling Zias goalkeeper Xan Ortiz that squirted through her hands and inside the right post for the go-ahead score.
“It just came out to me and I just tried to get a shot on goal,” Davies said. “We’ve struggled the last two games, so it was great to come out and get a win. We got a lot of chances and this time we put them in.”
Martin put the Pioneers ahead 2-0 as sophomore Emily Davila’s pass across was directed in off the side of Martin’s head and into the left side of the goal.
With the victory, the Pioneers sit in the fourth spot in the conference with 16 points and will attempt to finish out the last three games of the season on a high note while trying to garner a top-six finish in the standings that would secure a spot in the LSC tournament. TWU will face fifth-place Midwestern State on the road Friday. The two teams finished in a 0-0 draw after two overtimes in their first meeting Sept. 30 in Denton.
“We definitely needed to come back from the dead,” Benatar said of her team’s recent skid. “We had some good games when we lost, but it just goes to show you the difference when you lose. Once you’re on that high, good teams know how to stay there and we need to learn how to do that.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.