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Stellar defense almost enough to salvage win

PURPLE POWER: Noelle Pugliese (9) made a pair of defensive takeaways to spoil Wayland scoring efforts on Saturday.WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  There was much to like in the women’s soccer debut by Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Saturday. While a 1-0 setback at the hands of Wayland Baptist University was not what they had hoped, the Lady Lions took a number of positives from the loss.

We did what we had to do with what we had,” said Mandy Fortner following her first game as the team’s head coach. “We were without three or four starters and had to play part of the second half while short-handed.

The Lady Lions were without forwards Daniela Garcia (Tucson, Az / Rio Rico HS) and Natalie Pena (Dallas, Tx / Tulsa’s Union HS) for the whole game. Partway through the first half the squad suffered the loss of Daniella Ramirez (Waco, Tx / Waco HS). An offensive catalyst as a Center-Midfielder, she had to be carried off the pitch with a sprained ankle.

Before the half ended, starting goalkeeper Haley Shingleton (Pasadena, Tx / Deer Park HS) injured her right leg, though she was capably replaced by Brooke Burger (Kenosha, Wisc / Valley Center HS).

Overall, it was a very good match,” Coach Fortner pointed out. “We could’ve won had we much offense at all. But, under the circumstances, we did pretty well. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I like this team. The players stayed strong until the end, which is a tribute to their conditioning.

The setting of the game was trying for both teams, as temperatures reached 106.

Wayland controlled the pace of the game from the outset, dominating at times in the midfield. While they did fire a number of shots (23), most of them were from a distance that both Shingleton and Burger stifled. The Pioneers were aggressive on offense and defense, and took advantage of SAGU’s inaccurate passing game.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Described as a fearless defender by her coach, Ashley Nerat was all of that in the season opener.SAGU’s defense held their own, making tackles, forcing low-percentage shots or turnovers. Leading the way, according to Fortner was Noelle Pugliese (Lee’s Summit, Mo / Lee’s Summit North HS), who had a solid game in all phases. Co-Captains Ashley Nerat (Menomonee Falls, Wisc / Menomonee Falls HS) and Jessica Powell (Terrell, Tx / Terrell HS) anchored the backline. Nerat (pronounced NAIR-et) stepped in and blocked a handful of shots and played fearlessly.

The Pioneers, whose campus is just north of Lubbock, scored the game’s lone goal following a defensive miscue by SAGU. Madison Abbott’s cornerkick was sent towards Zoe Benson. The 6-foot sophomore boinked a well-directed header to the upper right crook in the net.  Burger, who made 10 second half saves, had no chance of stopping the shot. It came after 59 minutes of scoreless play.

The Lady Lions best bid to score came in the first half on a 15-yard blast by Amy Lambdin (Stockton, Cal / Elliot Christian), and a shot late in the game from Victoria Munoz (Granbury, Tx / Granbury HS).

Other SAGU players who displayed noteworthy efforts included Gloria Lozano (El Paso, Tx / Faith Christian), Shelby Morgan (Silsbee, Tx / Silsbee HS) and Vicky Hagemeier (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Southwestern returns to the pitch on Wednesday, August 24, when they welcome Mid America Christian University for a 3pm contest.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.

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