Goalie Tracy Griffin, #2 nationally in saves

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Easily the world's most popular, most viewed, most played and most attended sport is soccer. The game also generates more revenue than all of the others. Anyone who has watched the World Cup recognizes the incredible passion with which the fans of futball (American soccer) express their affection for their favorite player or chosen teams.

While the game has not enjoyed the same following in the United States, it continues to thrive on the amateur level through college.

For Southwestern Assemblies of God University's Tracy Griffin, soccer is not just a game. It carries a strong devotion and purpose.

Griffin, the Lady Lions goal-keeper the past three seasons, recently ended her collegiate career as SAGU's all-time leader in games played, wins, shutouts (6) and saves. In fact, she led the Red River Athletic Conference in saves in 2010. She averaged a whopping 11.75 per game.

Kingpin Queen

A native of Wylie, Texas, the effervescent Griffin stood out like a kingpin in a bowling alley. She could be seen shouting encouragement to SAGU defenders, barking out coverage assignments, always a vocal and emotional lightning rod on a young team.

Her senior effort ranked her #2 in the nation in rejections, trailing only Berea College's Katie Downey. Berea, located south of Lexington, Kentucky, endured an 0-16 season that saw them outscored 86-3.

Griffin made 188 saves in 16 games, including four outings with 20 or more stops. Team Lioness also had a rough 1-15-1 campaign, scoring seven times while surrendering 58. Serving as the physical backstop and last line of defense, Griffin was kept busy by a leaky defense.

The goalie who donned the #1 jersey was the leader on a team that surrendered 3.4 goals per game. She posted one shutout, blanking Southwestern College (Ks) 2-0. Four times this season Griffin suffered defeats by the slimmest of scores, falling 1-0. Yielding two goals on four occasions led to three 2-1 setbacks and a 2-2 tie. In eight of the sixteen games she played this year she allowed two goals or less.

She also registered an 8-0 whitewashing of Southwestern Adventist University (Tx), a game the NAIA later negated when the SWAU team couldn't finish the season with enough healthy players.

She remains the only Lady Lions goalie to post a shutout.

Increasing the pressure on the netminder was an offense that failed to score in twelve of the team's 17 games. Still, she battled like a fearless badger.

As a junior she averaged 5.08 per game, which was second best in the RRAC. In her first year between the pipes she had a breakout season. In her sophomore debut, Griffin prevented 7.11 shots from reaching the net, a norm that rated #30 in the NAIA and #2 in the Red River.

That is 382 stops in 47 career games over three years. The women's soccer program at Southwestern has only been in existence since 2006, and Griffin has been one of the Lady Lions standout performers.

Making the Grades

Griffin, whose cheery disposition belies her gritty work ethic, was able to achieve her athletic success while making the Dean's List during six semesters.

Her first autumn on campus was bittersweet. She never missed a practice or a game, but was forced to redshirt due to a fractured leg that required surgery.

 

Resilient Badger: "Never Give Up!"

Griffin's battle cry was as old as it was motivational: Never Give Up!

"There was a few times where I just wanted to quit. I felt like an awful goalkeeper because we would lose almost every game," she said in a recent interview. "My confidence went down a lot, and I didn't like that feeling. But I knew I was placed at this school for a reason."

"God gave me talent to play, and a drive to play to use it best, even if we lost every single game. People would often tell me, "It's just a game." But it was not just a game to me! It's a passion and a love that I have. I don't just play it just to play it. I play it because I'm in love with the game! It is a great game!"

She sat down after the season to review her experience in establishing SAGU's women's soccer program. Griffin spoke glowingly of her coaches, teammates, about the progress the team achieved, and lessons learned while on the soccer pitch (field).

Tracy Griffin: Q & A

Q: Who were your head coaches at Southwestern?

TG: Well, when I came the program had only been two years old. It was coached by Jeremy Tosaya until my junior year. Tim Grant took over and finished out being my coach for my last two years.

Q: How about influential coaches prior to college?

TG: I played at Wylie High School (Class 5A) in the North Dallas school district. I also played for a very good club team, the Dallas Texans '88. They were very successful. I am an 89'er (year of birth), so I played a year up (against older players). It definitely had its challenging moments, but we did pretty well.

The coach I learned the most from was my personal goalkeeper coach, Paul Hason. He's from Czechoslovakia and is currently the SMU goalkeeping coach. He was a great and taught me everything! Also, my Texans coach, Jimmie Lankford, made a great impact on my soccer life.

Q: What made you want to play goalie?

TG: When I was 9 years old, our goalkeeper got hurt, so I volunteered to go in. I don't know what I was thinking! A ball came my way, and I tackled it! Ever since then I was nominated to be the keeper for teams.

I went to a soccer camp when I was 13, training with other goalkeepers. That camp sparked my career and equipped me to become a lot better. I have played soccer for 15 years now, and 12 years have been at goalie. The camps, the coaching and experience helped me to improve and hone my skills. They instilled a strong drive to want to play well.

Q: Summarize each of your seasons at Southwestern.

TG: My freshman year was when I broke my leg and had surgery.

I got to play every game in my sophomore season. I wrote down the teams we would play and the scores from each game from the previous year. I was determined not to yield as many goals as we did the year before. I did just that. We had two wins, and I had two shutouts that year. Both were firsts for SAGU.

As a junior – it was the same story, different year. My goal again was to let in fewer goals against the teams we played the previous years. With a few exceptions, we accomplished just that.

That year was the best year SAGU Women's Soccer has had. Between Mandy Fortner and Grant, they really helped this team so much. We won four games that year and only got "killed" by two good teams. We held our own, defensively. We were pretty solid. We lacked offense. The games were all very close; 2-1, 1-0, even 0-0. Scores like that. We all played well together.

My senior year - at the beginning, I was so excited about this new team! We had some great players who really knew the game. We had speed for the offense, and as well for the defense.

But some unexpected things happened. We lost some key players, especially due to grades and injuries. That hurt us a bit. Plus, we struggled with inconsistency.

We started playing a new formation that didn't work out as well as we had hoped. People were switched to different positions, so it required a lot of adjusting. Injuries then forced players to be moved again. Personally, I started and ended every game, except one (torn hip-flexor).

The new girls were so awesome though, and I'm really excited for them and the team next year! I know it will be a lot different with new players coming in. Plus, the coaching is solid.

Q: How would describe the development of the women's soccer program?

TG: This team has improved SO much!!! The year before arriving on campus, I kept up with the scores and saw a few games. SAGU Women's Soccer is NOTHING like that team 5 years ago. We have a strong defense and offense compared to our early years. Little mistakes really hurt us. But those can be fixed, and they will be.

Five years into the program there are still plenty of things that need attention, but they will get better. This year's scores didn't show that we got better from previous years, but the players individually made a lot of strides!

Q: How has college soccer benefitted you personally? Spiritually?

TG: Coming from a winning school and club team, it was so hard to come here and lose so often. I am a very competitive person and I despise losing. I still hate it. But my years here really helped adjust my pride and taught me to be humble.

My prayer has always been to represent Christ on and off the field. When pride walks on the field, God walks off. I strived to live by that truth.

God is the reason we were on that field to begin with. Our attitude always relect who we are. It is so important to me that God's light shines through me - on or off the field.

Q: How did college soccer add to your educational experience at Southwestern?

TG: It made me stay really focused. It's hard playing college soccer and being a full-time student, especially when you get to your upper level classes. This year we had plenty of road games, so I stayed determined and focused to stay on track.

I honestly believe if I hadn't play soccer, I wouldn't have strived as hard to be the student I am now.

Q: Your thoughts about Head Coach Tim Grant and Assistant Coach Mandy Fortner?

TG: Coach Grant has coached a number of sports, and his knowledge of soccer grew in the past two years. I am grateful for him. He worked so hard to motivate us! He's a great man of God, with a crazy, but funny, personality! He always makes practices and bus rides really fun!

He has done such a great job with us, and I am really going to miss him! Coach Grant was most known for this singing this, very loudly: "He's a greeaaattt, big, wonderful God!"

Coach Mandy - where to start?! She has been the assistant coach for two years now. I believe that she was the big reason why we did so well the past two years. She got us in really good shape and kept us in shape. She helped us so much with our game. She is probably one of the best coaches I've ever had. She did a great job, and I can't thank her enough for what she's done for this team, especially this year.

She taught us that "You can go so much further than your mind is telling you." That inspires me when I am running or in life in general.

Q: Your fondest memory on the playing field at SAGU?

TG: During my junior year when we played UTB (University of Texas at Brownsville), we lost 1-0. That was probably the best game that I have ever seen SAGU play. In the previous years, UTB killed us 8-0 and 7-0. We came out so strong and were ready to play. And their only score came on a fluke goal. We all played with so much passion and fire! I'll never forget it.

Q: Who were teammates that you most enjoyed?

TG: I love all the girls I have played with throughout the years! They all had their own role and each of them inspired in different ways. But the players I enjoyed the most as teammates were Madison Wells and Natalie Horton. They had such encouraging personalities and great attitudes. They always brought it to the field too. They had a competitive mindset, wanted to win, and yet were very humble and their Christian attitude was clearly evident.

Q: What were your best accomplishments?

TG: I most treasured being a team captain for three years. I was able to set some records each year for shutouts, wins and saves. Making an all-tournament team and being named All-Region as a sophomore were special. Ranking #2 in the nation in saves this year took a lot of work. It was fun working with the midfielders and defenders.

Q: What is your immediate future?

TG: Well, my final semester will be the fall of 2011 when I will do my student teaching. The Education program and the professors have really prepared me for a career I'm about to begin. I will graduate next December 2011. I'll start applying for an elementary teaching position. I also want to coach soccer as well.

Q: How do you feel the Education Department at SAGU prepared you?

TG: The professors have made a tremendous impact on my life. They are so passionate for the Lord and about what they teach. They also worked so well with me during my absences related to soccer. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Q: What do you think the future holds for Lady Lions soccer?

TG: I'm so excited for the years to come for this team! We have some great coaches, and a great group of girls. Each year, the girls that come in get better, stronger and faster. They have so much potential. As long as the players love the game and the Lord, if the girls' hearts stay in love with the Lord they are going to become a better, winning team!

There are some talented players that give them a very good core. The redshirted players could really be good. Plus, the new recruits could strengthen the team.

Q: What did it mean to suit up to play home games on campus?

TG: It was always a great feeling knowing that I was playing on our home field with our fans behind us cheering us on! When I stepped out on the field, nervousness would just go away. Each half, when I got to the goal that I was defending, I prayed that God would work through me and the team to reflect Him in our actions and attitudes.

Q: Who were your favorite fans?

TG: We had lots of great fans. My favorites are still my grandparents, Elree and Martha Len Griffin. They never missed one home game, and they even made a lot of the away games! My grandparents were my biggest fans. I don't know what I would have done without them. They raised me to become the person and athlete I am today. I am so grateful and blessed to have such special grandparents and the love they have for me.

Tracy Griffin was a player whose exemplary performance on the pitch represented SAGU with class and spirit.

Her jersey number reflected her perfectly!

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Lady Lions fall, 2-1, in home debut

Sep 02, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Powell to Lozano; a beautiful goal Labor Day home game at 11am WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A precision-like score during a cornerkick wasn’t enough for the women’s soccer team from ...

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Soccer doubleheader at home on Sat/Mon

Soccer doubleheader at home on Sat/Mon

Aug 31, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

SAGU plays host to pair of Kansas teams Lady Lions, Lions seek rebound from MACU loss WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Labor Day Weekend for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at So...

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W-Soccer charting the right course

W-Soccer charting the right course

Aug 24, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Young program seeks more progress in 2012 Powell, senior captain, paces Team Purple WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Second year Head Coach Mandy Fortner, like a sea captain, is beginnin...

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Women's Soccer stalks more wins

Women's Soccer stalks more wins

Aug 18, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions open season Fri. at MACU 2012 Pre-Season Poll ranks one RRAC team WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  When making a climb on an unfamiliar mount, two critical tips are to watch y...

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Women's Soccer Opens Camp

Women's Soccer Opens Camp

Aug 13, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

New Assistant Coach Introduced Co-Captain Powell to lead Lady Lions WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The women’s soccer team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University begin camp in pr...

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Soccer teams to serve Texas town

Soccer teams to serve Texas town

Jul 25, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Community service and athletic outreaches planned Coaches Fortner, Oancea to lead Aug. 8-13 project WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Southweste...

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Recruit wins Texas state championship

Recruit wins Texas state championship

May 31, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

McKina Michael, Plano West, take soccer crown Defender expected to lead Lady Lions back line WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- McKina Michael, who recently signed to play soccer for Southwestern Assembl...

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Red Oak defender commits to SAGU

Red Oak defender commits to SAGU

May 30, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Justine Lopez is latest Lady Lions signee WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University has announced the signing of Justine Lopez to the Lady Lions women’s soccer team. A ...

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SAGU inks scoring threat

SAGU inks scoring threat

May 27, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions address offensive needs South Grand Prairie's Audrea Davila commits WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Building a soccer team begins with defenders and playmaking midfielders. But without offe...

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Women's Soccer has 18 matches

Women's Soccer has 18 matches

May 24, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions seek to continue momentum Two home games on Labor Day weekend WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Fans who get their kicks following the world’s most popular sport, soccer, can mark their calen...

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W-Soccer secures Aerial Standout

W-Soccer secures Aerial Standout

Feb 23, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Kenzie McNutt signs to play at SAGU Ovilla Christian midfielder excels above the ground WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- If the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s soccer team seeks to be...

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Soccer inks McKina Michael

Soccer inks McKina Michael

Feb 23, 2012 - Women's Soccer News

Outside Defender is from Plano West HS WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The first full recruiting season under second year women’s soccer head coach Mandy Fortner has begun with the first of many signings ...

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Women's Soccer Lions still hungry

Women's Soccer Lions still hungry

Nov 16, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Coach Fortner answers 8 questions SAGU plays at home at noon in Thursday regional WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- In seasons that do not produce winning records, it is common for players to be glad wh...

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Lady Lions battle in central regional

Lady Lions battle in central regional

Nov 15, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

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 Southwes...

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Pena, Lady Lions blank Rams

Pena, Lady Lions blank Rams

Oct 30, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Resilient squad gets off the schneid WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Natalie Pena (Dallas, Tx / Union HS, Tulsa, Ok) scored the only goal of the game early in the second half leading Southwestern Assembli...

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Last-minute goal edges SAGU

Last-minute goal edges SAGU

Oct 24, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Lambdin scores pair for Lions Home finale on Saturday to honor seniors HOBBS, New Mexico -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s soccer team came within 103 seconds o...

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Women's Soccer yields to UTB, 5-1

Women's Soccer yields to UTB, 5-1

Oct 16, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Belisle blast lifts Lady Lions Final home game set for October 29 WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The women’s soccer team from Southwestern Assemblies of God University played one of the Re...

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Lady Lions Soccer fall to OLLU

Lady Lions Soccer fall to OLLU

Oct 14, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Three late goals break-up close match Belisle, Lambdin, Murders threaten 1st place Saints WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Despite a stubborn defense and   and  some impressive bids to score...

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Late goal costs Lady Lions

Oct 02, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Texas College 'steals' 1-0 triumph Offense needs rescue; coach remains confident   WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A pop classic, “Jim Dandy to the Rescue,” was written in...

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Lady Lions shutout by Bacone

Sep 30, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

SAGU scoring drought continues   WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  An aggressive offense overcame a resisting defense was the storyline on a sweltering fall afternoon at Pride Park. The...

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Lady Pilots sink SAGU in soccer

Sep 25, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Murders holds first-place LSUS to three goals   SHREVEPORT, Louisiana -- Yielding an early goal in both halves was too much to overcome for the rebuilding women’s soccer team at ...

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W-Soccer jousted by Knights

Sep 24, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Defending Champion Northwood pulls away late Powell, Shingleton lead SAGU defense   CEDAR HILL, Texas  --  Continuing in their quest for the winning formula, the Southwes...

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Lady Lions and rain fall in Victoria

Sep 18, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Jaguars pull away late in 5-0 setback   VICTORIA, Texas -- A young and improving women’s soccer team from Southwestern Assemblies of God University had their moments against the ...

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Ponies edge Lady Lions, 2-1, in soccer

Ponies edge Lady Lions, 2-1, in soccer

Sep 07, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Garcia theft and goal gives SAGU 1-0 lead   WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The women’s soccer team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, now in their sixth season, continue to show...

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SAGU wins on Garcia OT goal

Aug 31, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions win 2nd straight shutout Pena, Garcia connection remains hot! BETHANY, Oklahoma -- After teaming-up for three goals and four assists on Saturday, the combination of Daniela Garci...

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SAGU roars during 7-0 score-fest

Aug 31, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Garcia, Pena, Pugliese each score twice   WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Three players booted in a pair of goals apiece as Southwestern Assemblies of God University thumped Dallas Christian Coll...

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MACU tops Lady Lions, 3-0

Aug 29, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Facing a very talented opponent that routed them a year ago, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s soccer team had their work cut out for them on Wednesda...

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Lady Lions Fall 1-0 in Opener

Lady Lions Fall 1-0 in Opener

Aug 21, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Stellar defense almost enough to salvage win WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  There was much to like in the women’s soccer debut by Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Saturday. ...

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Women's Soccer Team Building Depth

Women's Soccer Team Building Depth

Jul 01, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions Add Kristina Armbrust WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Mandy Fortner continues to build up the Lady Lions roster at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Heading into her fi...

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Women's Soccer Team Adds Two Players

Women's Soccer Team Adds Two Players

Jun 19, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Accelerating the Game SAGU signs Sanchez and Ramirez WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Looking to add speed to the offensive attack, Southwestern Assemblies of God University signed a pair o...

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Women's Soccer Team Hires New Assistant Coach

Women's Soccer Team Hires New Assistant Coach

Jun 19, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions Secure Soccer Assistant Coach Allison Gudmundson Announced by Mandy Fortner WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The start of the women’s soccer season is less than sixty days ...

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Women's Soccer Team Signs Foursome

Women's Soccer Team Signs Foursome

May 17, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Finding Keepers Coach Fortner secures more soccer talent WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  While football’s quarterback and basketball’s point guard are two of “team sports...

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Women's Soccer Schedule has 18 Games

Women's Soccer Schedule has 18 Games

May 08, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Kickin’ and Grinnin’ Fortner energizes Women’s Soccer WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Taking over a young women’s soccer program that produced just one win in seven...

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SAGU Hires New Women's Soccer Coach

SAGU Hires New Women's Soccer Coach

Apr 23, 2011 - Women's Soccer News

Getting her kicks Mandy Fortner named Women’s Soccer Coach WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Mandy Fortner has come full circle. And she couldn’t be happier! Her high school so...

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Making the Grade While Making Saves

Dec 23, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Goalie Tracy Griffin, #2 nationally in saves WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Easily the world's most popular, most viewed, most played and most attended sport is soccer. The game also generates more r...

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Garrison, Horton Lead SAGU to 2-2 Tie

Nov 01, 2010 - Women's Soccer 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...

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Quick Start Propels Rams Over Lady Lions

Oct 28, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

SAGU falls to Texas Wesleyan in Women's Soccer WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Going against a hungry Texas Wesleyan University team preparing for post-season play, Southwestern Assemblies...

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Soccer: Lady Lions Blanked on the Border

Oct 24, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

GK Tracy Griffin Stops 20 Shots!  BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- The University of Texas at Brownsville managed three goals and stuffed the Southwestern Assemblies of God University in women&#...

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Women's Soccer: SAGU Falls in San Antonio

Oct 21, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Our Lady of the Lake Remains Unbeaten  SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's soccer team was on the short-end of a 8-0 loss to Our Lady of the Lak...

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Lady Lions Not so Rosey in Tyler

Oct 19, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Guinn, Garcia Team-up to Produce Goal TYLER, Texas -- The Lady Steers of Texas College got just enough offense and defense to hold off the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's ...

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SAGU Soccer Twin-Bill Rescheduled

Oct 13, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Lightning Forces Teams to Make-Up Monday Games TYLER, Texas  --  A series of powerful storms blew through East Texas on Monday afternoon and evening, forcing the postponement of a pai...

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SAGU Soccer Teams Drop Two in Muskogee

Oct 08, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma  --  The 250 mile trip did not produce the desired results for either the men's nor the women's soccer teams from Southwestern Assemblies of God University...

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Women's Soccer Team Bound for Muskogee

Oct 06, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Lady Lions Seek Offensive  on the Road WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The regular season is winding down, but the challenge to make progress is heating up. The Southwestern Assemblie...

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Defense, Goaltending Not Enough for Lady Lions

Oct 03, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Martin, LSU-Shreveport shut down SAGU, 4-0 WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's soccer team came up short on a warm, sunny afternoon against a talented...

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Lady Lions Shutout in RRAC Opener, 4-0

Oct 01, 2010 - Women's Soccer News

Defending Champion Lady Knights Play the Part WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University womens soccer team began conference play on Thursday afternoon wuth ...

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