Lady Lions battle in central regional
SAGU plays Mustangs Thursday at noon
Team Lioness hopes to avenge a 2-1 loss on Labor Day
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The team’s improved play down the stretch was reason enough for Southwestern Assemblies of God University to enter their women’s soccer team in this week’s post-season college tournament.
Dallas Baptist University was originally planning to serve as host for the Central Region tourney as a Division I member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. The Lady Patriots* (16-5-1), however, won the Heartland Conference and have claimed two wins in the NCAA Division II national playoffs, causing them to request that SAGU hold the three-day, six-team venue.
Three teams from Oklahoma and single squads from Colorado and Arkansas will join SAGU in comprising a tournament field that will be competing for a spot in the NCCAA’s nationals. That 8-team event is set for November 30 through December 3 in the Orlando suburb of Kissimmee, Florida.
A young program making progress under first year head coach Mandy Fortner (a DBU grad where she earned All-American honors in soccer), the Lady Lions sought entry in the regional. The site location was a huge plus even before DBU had to step aside. Patriot Field is about a 30-minute drive from Waxahachie.
SAGU will play Central Baptist College (Ark) on Thursday, Nov. 17, in an opening round quarterfinal. The match is slated for a noon start on one of two campus soccer fields. CBC claimed a 2-1 triumph over Southwestern on Labor Day in Waxahachie.
The primary pitch, Pride Park, will have four of the five games. The team’s adjacent practice field, which was leveled and sodded just this spring, will serve as the site for one game, as both the men’s and women’s regionals will be hosted by SAGU.
DBU won the central regional in 2010. They were seeded 7th in Orlando where the team went 2-1 and finished fifth. Spring Arbor University (Mich) won the NCCAA title after playing Palm Beach Atlantic University to a 1-1 tie. The Cougars won the post-overtime shootout, 4-2, on penalty kicks. They are currently 18-2-1 and will face Siena Heights University in the opening round of the NAIA playoffs this Saturday.
Should SAGU eliminate the CBC Lady Mustangs, they would take on the #1 seed in Mid-America Christian University at noon on Friday. MACU bested Team Lioness 3-0 on August 24 at Pride Park.
Another triumph would send the Lady Lions to Saturday’s noon final against either #2 Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Colorado Christian University or Southwestern Christian University (Ok). SAGU has yet to play OKWU or CCU this year. They shutout SWCU on the road on August 30 by a 1-0 count.
The participating teams are seeded based on their Longo rating, which is a system that considers strength of schedule.
Here’s a concise preview of the six squads in contention for a trip to Central Florida:
#1 Mid-America Christian University (OKC, Ok) (11-6-1)
The top offense in the group, the Lady Evangels have put 46 in the net this fall. Two junior forwards have both been a “one-man wrecking machine,” the title of Guster’s song. Kassie Byrd has 17 goals and two assists, while Julia Nimal (14g, 10 assists) is a dual threat. In limiting foes to 18 goals, MACU allows only 1.17 per game as junior keeper Melissa Dobie yielded just 1.20 goals per outing while registering 8 shutouts.
#2 Oklahoma Wesleyan University (Bartlesville, Ok) (13-5-1)
Powered by Amber Brown-Longoria, a sophomore forward (17g, 2a), the Lady Eagles have soared with 36 goals. Forward Libby Storie (10g, 7a) is an offensive catalyst while recent All-MCAC selections, Nicole Farquhar and Lindsey Stephenson, senior defenders, and goalie Savannah Longoria, anchor the defense. All five players garnered all-league honors. Wesleyan outscored their opponents 39-23.
#3 Colorado Christian University (Lakewood, Co) (2-15-1)
The Lady Cougars battled through their inaugural campaign in the NCAA’s Division II, where wins in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference were tough to come by. Still, the Coogs were outscored by just a 32-11 total. Standout goalie Caitlyn Moses, a junior, surrendered an average of 1.01 goals per game. Senior Brittany Corona was named all RMAC First Team. Freshman forward Danielle Gershon and junior middie Megan Gilchrest both scored three goals, while sophomore Ciara Meredith had two scores and a pair of assists.
#4 Central Baptist College (Conway, Ark) (7-9-0)
The Mustangs have the horses to make a run at the regional crown, based on their balance. They've scored 26 and permitted 27, with Leah Crook sparking the defense between the pipes. She lets in just 1.81 goals and has racked up five shutouts. Forward Brittany Kemper is the clubs top scorer (7g, 3 a). Eight players have scored two or three goals apiece, as CBC’s depth is clear. Kaylee Coffman (2g, 3a) is one of four players with three helpers.
#5 Southwestern Assemblies of God University (Waxahachie, Tx) (3-13-0)
Building one step at a time, the Lady Lions reduced their goals allowed from 58 to 48 and increased their goals from seven to 13. Dani Garcia and junior Natalie Pena have each booted three goals, with Garcia, a senior, also being credited with three helpers. Sophomore Noelle Pugliese and freshman Amy Lambdin have tallied twice. SAGU has four one-goal setbacks.
#6 Southwestern Christian University (Bethany, Ok) (2-13-1)
The young Eagles are known for their competitive streak, and have surrendered two goals or less in seven of their last eight games, and 11 times in 16 games. Their offense has been outscored 50-8, but they are assembling the pieces. Miranda White has five goals and an assist and Paloma Ochoa has a pair of netters. Goalkeeper Allie McIntosh permits just 2.89 goals per match.
*DBU defeated Central Missouri, 3-1, in their first round NCAA D-II opener. The Pats then upset #14 Central Oklahoma 1-0. They travel to Los Angeles for a Sweet 16 match-up against Abilene Christian University this Friday. The Wildcats are 19-1-1.