UCA Soccer photo

The University of Central Arkansas women’s soccer team celebrates during its 1-0 win over Little Rock in the Governor’s I-40 Showdown matchup Thursday.

It was a night of new beginnings for Central Arkansas women’s soccer as they took on Little Rock in the Governor’s I-40 Showdown.

It was a strong start for the Bears, who started the match with a new formation including starting a freshman in Zoe Van de Cloot.

In the 10th minute, Emma Hawkins smashed the ball against the crossbar after a deflection sent an awkward ball at her outside the 6-yard box.

The Bears did not get another chance until the 26th minute when defender Gracie Hair rifled a shot toward the top left corner, forcing a save from the Trojan goalkeeper.

The Bears went into the half with a 0-0 scoreline.

In the 59th minute, Anika Sultan sent a shot from 21 yards out off the woodwork.

The ball fell to a wide open Emma Hawkins, who sent the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, beating the Trojans’ goalkeeper.

“It was unexpected, the ball fell to me and I just knocked it in,” Hawkins said about the goal.

The Bears held onto the lead, but were taken by surprise when a looping through ball split the back line finding Trojan forward Mari Young, who sent a first-time shot towards the top right corner.

Bears goalkeeper Reagan McCombs made an acrobatic diving save to push the ball behind for a corner kick, keeping the score to 1-0.

The Bears held onto their one-goal advantage to close out the win in their season opener against the neighbors to the south.

“We always wanted to start off on a positive note,” coach Jeremy Bishop said. “We wanted to make sure that we just played well. Our preparation showed tonight and the win to go with it was huge.

The Bears (1-0) host the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Sunday, set for a 6 p.m. kickoff at the Bill Stephens Complex.

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