FOLEY, Ala. – Hailey Furio’s free kick from the top of the 18-yard box in the 89th minute found the back of the net and lifted Arkansas State to a 1-0 victory over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Soccer team on Friday in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Championships a the Foley Sports Complex.
Megan McClure stopped five shots for Arkansas State (10-5-4), which advanced to Sunday’s championship match against the winner of top-seeded South Alabama and No. 5-seed Georgia State.
Louisiana, which reached the postseason for the first time since 2016 and recorded its first-ever win in the Sun Belt Championships in 14 matches with a 3-0 win over No. 2-seeded Troy on Wednesday, ended an incredible season under first-year coach Lance Key at 9-8-3 overall.
Arkansas State earned its second 1-0 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns this season after three straight fouls were called on Louisiana beginning in the 86th minute. The Ragin’ Cajuns, who were whistled for 10 fouls in the match, were called for five fouls in the final 10 minutes of the match that included yellow cards on Kaylie Powell and Una Einarsdottir.
Furio was able to capitalize for the Red Wolves when she scored her third goal of the season with a shot past Ragin’ Cajuns goalkeeper Mackenzie Lee into the lower, right corner of the goal at the 88:29 mark.
Louisiana opened the match with a 7-2 advantage in shots in the first half, including a 4-0 edge in shots on-goal. Skyla Sykes, Powell and Ashley Newland each had attempts on-goal in the first 15 minutes of the match for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Julianne DeBlieux attempting a shot on-goal in the 40th minute.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were only able to record a pair of shots in the second half as Einarsdottir’s attempt in the 55th minute was stopped by McClure before Alexis Arnoult’s shot in the 70th minute was wide.
The Red Wolves took 11 of their 13 shots after intermission, with eight attempts on goal. Lee, who became the third Ragin’ Cajuns goalkeeper to record 4,000 minutes in a career, recorded a season-high seven saves for Louisiana.
Freshman Karleen Bedre took a team-high two shots for Louisiana with Kobi McNutt having a an attempt in the 25th minute blocked. Olivia Smith took four shots to lead the Red Wolves with Furio, Haley Husted and Hannah Maupin each taking a pair of attempts.
Louisiana, which was picked to finish ninth in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Poll, secured its first winning season since a 9-8-2 record in 2014 while logging a school-record eight shutouts.
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