So far, so bad this fall for Grambling State University athletics. The women’s volleyball team remains winless as does the football team.
But in one sporting event from last weekend, one team’s athletes showed the passion and pride that have always been associated with Grambling.
The GSU soccer team put forth a performance that would have made anyone proud. The Lady Tigers’ coach, Totty O. Totty, said as much after the game.
“This was all about them (the team),” he said. “They work so hard, and as a coach, you can’t help but be proud of an effort like that.”
This past Sunday, GSU won against Texas Southern, 2-1. The game was not amazing because the Lady Tigers won; it was amazing because of the way they won.
The Lady Tigers played and won with only eight players. Soccer, like football, is a game played with 11 players on the field for each team, 10 infield players and a goalie. To play a game with eight players is unusual, and to get the results they got is unheard of.
But because of injuries and Grambling’s lack of depth, that’s what the team was forced to do.
The game started familiarly enough, with the team going down 1-0 on a Jessica Smith goal in the 23rd minute of the first half. Undeterred by the setback, the Lady Tigers dug in.
Able to gain some possession, the team repeatedly tried to hit the ball to Cierra Arndt, the only player Grambling had in a forward offensive position. With multiple defenders around her at all times and little support, Arndt and GSU seemed as if they were going to have another long day.
Then, just before the half, Arndt got hold of the ball near the halfway line and made a run that would have made Lionel Messi jealous. Arndt knifed through the defense, dribbling around, through and past seven Texas Southern defenders before blasting the shot past the TSU goalie.
Grambling went into halftime tied 1-1 and came out of the half with a sense of purpose. GSU’s back line and midfield put in challenge after challenge, and closed down and pressured TSU, getting them out of rhythm and forcing mistakes.
Arndt continued her work up top, constantly working and running everywhere trying to get the ball, frustrating TSU defenders, forcing them to foul. It was one of these fouls that led to the free kick that produced Grambling’s second goal.
Equally as beautiful as the first, the Lady Tigers’ second goal came off the foot of team captain Courtney Blount. Taken from around the halfway line, Blount’s shot sailed high through the air, hit the ground without anyone getting a touch, bounced around the 6-yard box and floated over the head of the TSU goalkeeper. The goalie scrambled to try to keep it out of her net, but the effort was hopeless as the ball rolled in and put Grambling ahead.
With 35 minutes left, GSU still had work to do. The team’s defense remained strong, and Grambling continued to try to counterattack, looking for a third goal that would put the game away. In the end, it was not needed.
Despite every disadvantage, through sheer heart and tenacity – and a lot of hard work – the Lady Tigers were able to see out the game.
The win moved the Lady Tigers to only 2-5 on the season, but it made them 2-1 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play. The team will continue its push to make the conference tournament with 2 games this weekend, Friday at Alabama A & M and Sunday at Alabama State.
In his team, coach Totty has seen a lot of progress. “The ladies have been working so hard and we’re stating to see the results of that.”
The Lady Tigers deserve a shout-out. Nahomie Lagadere, Amila Omerovich, Robblyn Branch, Kenisha Butler, Ashleigh Taylor, Anita Dominique, Courtney Blount, and Sierra Arndt here’s to you for the best effort seen from any group of Lady Tigers in a long time.