Athletic News

Team Rallies behind Play of Griffin, Powell

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- In a game that appeared to be played for a berth in the playoffs, the University of the Southwest and Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's soccer teams fought to a 2-2 draw on Saturday morning.

Senior Day Swan Song

Both squads were wrapping up their fall seasons and yet they played with great gusto. SAGU honored three members of their team at halftime, seniors Tracy Griffin, Sarah Powell and Madison Wells, who would conclude exemplary careers in purple and gold. Head Coach Tim Grant and assistants Mandy Fortner and Nathan Horton welcomed them at midfield, along with their families, for a classy show of appreciation.

The game itself was quite physical, with numerous fouls called as were a few yellow and red cards given for more strenuous displays between players. The Lady Lions, who were playing with a host of injured players, saw two others hurt, with one needing assistance to exit the pitch.

Madison Wells (Farmers Branch, Tx / R.L. Turner HS) began the game and promptly kicked the ball off the field. Why? Coach Grant wanted to honor the senior midfielder with a final start, even though she suffered a concussion (during a header) on Tuesday. By intentionally booting the ball out of play, she was able to get an official "start," before being allowed to leave the field following the turnover. It was a thoughtful move by the coaching staff. She was replaced by Kendall Murders (Bolivar, Mo / Bolivar HS).

The Mustangs, who had picked up their first conference win just two days prior, were anxious to collect a second during their long road trip from Hobbs, New Mexico. It wouldn't happen, but they came close. The scored an early goal and managed to outshoot the Lady Lions, 24-13. Three times they fired shots that hit the cross bar.

Nationally Ranked SAGU Goalie Super on Saturday

Knowing that SAGU senior keeper, Tracy Griffin (Wylie, Tx / Wylie HS) was playing with a recently injured hip flexor, they tried to take advantage of her limited mobility. It led to their first goal, when the goalie couldn't move laterally quickly enough to make a routine save. But the stubborn warrior is eaten up with "want to," and her persevering spirit would not take a seat. And her team rallied around her.

Griffin #2 in the Nation in Saves

Griffin finished her season #2 in the (NAIA – Division I) nation in saves with 188, an average of 11.75 per game. In this game, despite her "Hop-along Cassidy" imitation, she snared 16 would-be goals by a free-firing USW team.

The Phillies took a 2-1 lead shortly after halftime and appeared destined to tack on additional goals as they enjoyed a clear advantage over the injury-riddled Team Lioness.

But, when she was needed most, Griffin stepped up and stood out.

She made two saves from point blank range, picked off several lasers fired her way, and barked enough orders to her teammates on defense to resemble General Patton.

Southwestern Goals by Michigander

SAGU had scored on a goal by 5-foot-3, cat-quick freshman, Lyndi Garrison (Hastings, Mich / Thornapple Kellogg HS), who took a pass from sophomore Natalie Horton (Corsicana, Tx / Corsicana HS) on the right side. She snapped off a quick kick that knotted the score at 1-1 at the time.

Carnivorous Cat Defenders

The Lady Lions were on defense for stretches of the game but had several memorable plays to prevent scoring bids by the red-clad Mustangs. Murders defended a player at the edge of the box, and stole the ball when she had a chance to get off a kick with an open lane. Jessica Powell (Terrell, Tx / Terrell HS) had three such plays. Her quick feet paid off as she played tight defense against a player in the scoring zone, each time thwarting her attempt to pass or kick.

Danni Garcia (Tucson, Az / Rio Rico HS), perhaps the most combative player on the team, was aggressive as she harassed whoever she guarded. Sarah Powell (Terrell, Tx / Terrell HS), known for her defensive presence, has recently been playing midfield and has been involved on the frontline on offense as well. She, too, played fearlessly along with Shelby Morgan (Silsbee, Tx / Silsbee HS). Her play was praiseworthy until she injured an ankle that ended her game early.

Horton, Garrison Encore

Finally, with twenty minutes remaining, the Lady Lions began to assemble attacks on the offensive end and struck pay dirt. Several Southwestern players converged on the goal. In a crowded goal mouth there was little to no room to navigate, Horton again was able to slip a pass to Garrison, again on the right side.

A split second before she was clobbered, she booted a shot. Garrison beat the goalie with a low kick to the keeper's left, knotting the score at two goals apiece. She had to be carried off the field following the score, similar to what happens to hockey players following a goal. It was not a sportsmanlike move by the opposition. Her day was done, but not before she deadlocked the score with her second tally of the day.

The remaining minutes saw each team play cautiously, so as to not make a critical mistake that could cost the game. In the closing minutes, however, Southwest made two scoring runs, and Griffin was a wall. She shutdown three tries, twice within five yards, sending the game into a pair of 10-minute, sudden death overtime periods.

Sudden Death Overtime

The first session was uneventful as the play centered around midfield. Both USW and SAGU tried to mount breakaway plays in the second OT, but every bid was well defended. Finally, in the closing 90 seconds, the Purple Pride went after a game winner with a fury.

Horton looked to be dribbling through a minefield on one occasion, almost getting past four players while spelling "Mississippi" on the turf. Noelle Pugliese (Lee's Summit, Mo / Lee's Summit North HS), who did quite well after she moved from middie to forward, was looking for a chance to end it with a kick.

Just when it appeared there would be no highlight in extra time, Horton came away with a free ball and ripped a frozen rope that the goalie caught from inside ten yards with just eight seconds remaining. It sent the crowd into a huge cheer, for the 'almost' last-gasp-blast, and for an entertaining effort by the home team.

SAGU's Fifth Season

The Lady Lions concluded the 2010 campaign with a less than desired 1-15-1 mark, with the NAIA taking away their 8-0 win over Southwestern Adventist University, who couldn't finish their season due to a shortage of available players. SAGU could relate after Saturday's battle.

But there was also much optimism of better times to come. The team has several talented redshirts anxious to join the team and some recruits that will be given a great opportunity help build this team.

Come back to view uploaded photos on Monday. A season review will follow.

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