Head Coach Chris McBride had a lot to say after the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Soccer’s Oct. 15 thrashing at the hands of the Sun Belt Conference-leading South Alabama Jaguars in Mobile.
“I think it was just a perfect storm. We were very poor in certain areas of the game, they were fantastic in nearly every area of the game,” McBride said the next day. After the Cajuns defense turned away 14 shot attempts to keep the score 0–0 headed into halftime, the Jaguars came out and proceeded to rack up five goals by five different players.
“South Alabama earned all of those goals. All five of them were earned,” McBride said in response to a question on the team’s defensive tactics. “They were better than us in those moments, but for us to walk away and say ‘They earned it, we didn’t mess up,’ that’s a big thing for us. It means that what we’re doing, our preparations, our planning, our output in the game is good. They were just better than us on the day.”
Even in the mire of such a resounding offensive flop, there were still some bright spots, and McBride made sure to shine a spotlight on yet another Cajuns “rockstar goalie” in the making.
“I’d like to speak on Natalie Mayes for a second, cause if it wasn’t for that young lady, it could have been more. She stepped into the goal as a true freshman for her first career start and she was incredible back there,” McBride said.
Mayes recorded eight saves against the Jags, including seven in the first half. “Her athleticism, her composure, her command of her box, she did really well on Sunday and she gave the team definitely a boost of confidence throughout that first half,” McBride said. “We need some other players to step up in those moments and not just carry on one person.”
In the return home on Oct. 19, the Cajuns would face an Arkansas State Red Wolves squad coming off a 2–0–2 streak, including a narrow 2–1 victory over rival Troy.
After allowing a Wolves goal in just the third minute of play, the Cajuns responded in brilliant fashion. Emma Bates found the back of the net on a screamer outside the box to equalize before the half, and a bad foul by ASU’s Abby Stott resulting in a red card gave the Cajuns the opportunity to take over the game and play at their pace.
Even so, the game was losable down the stretch, as Mayes would record four saves after the Red Wolves’ booking. The team, though, managed to capitalize on a set piece in the 52nd minute as Megan Bradly tapped in a cross, and a Karleen Bedre left-footed attempt shortly after would seal the win 3–1.
On whether a playoff push was in store for the Cajuns, now one win back of third in the division, McBride said, “We’re just taking it one game at a time. Anything can happen… we just need to go out and make sure that we’re still focusing on what we can do to challenge the outcome of a game and not looking ahead of ourselves about seedings or who other people are playing, whether they’re home or away.”
“That’s when we start to lose focus, and that’s where we start making our mistakes again, rather than if we go into a game, making the outcome of the game our decision rather than someone else’s.”
The Cajuns return from their latest road trip to play their final regular-season game against the Marshall Thundering Herd on Thursday, Oct. 26.