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SAGU home opener set for 1:00pm

Denver's Johnson & Wales University is first time foe

Click here for the Game Day Preview

soccer-throw-in-daniella-ramirezWAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  After a 400-mile trip to kickoff the 2013 season last week, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s soccer team will play for the first time in front of home fans on Wednesday afternoon.

They hope home will be sweet.

Their opponent will be Denver’s Johnson & Wales University, who has begun their first season in the sport. The Lady Lions and the visiting Wildcats have a 1:00pm (CST) start. Both clubs have opened the new campaign with a pair of setbacks.

Weather for the match is expected to be 96 with a partly cloudy sky and 35% humidity. A mild, 6 mph wind out of the east is in the forecast. Temperature by the end of the game will hover between 98 and 100 degrees.

SAGU (0-2) has struggled out of the gate offensively, scoring a lone goal. The defense has shown good marks, one that should develop in the coming weeks.

Head Coach Mandy Fortner will start a third different goalie between the pipes on Wednesday when veteran Haley Shingleton (Deer Park, Tx / Deer Park HS) gets the nod. The junior had a 6-6-1 mark a year ago. She pitched six shutouts.

The Lady Lions will be looking for their midfielders to help jumpstart the offense.

Natalie Pena (Dallas, Tx / Tulsa’s Union HS), Justine Lopez (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Madeleine Thornley (Flower Mound, Tx / Marcus HS) are the likely sparkplugs for this year’s attack.

Pena (PAIN-ya) is a senior known for her feisty play on offense. She has seven goals and six assists entering her final year on the pitch. Lopez tallied one goal and racked up three helpers as a freshman. She has a powerful leg and totaled 28 shots a year ago, fourth on the team.

Thornley is an impact player known for her field vision and for making things happen.

Three forwards, all upper classmen, will benefit from the play of the center-midfielders.

Noelle Pugliese (Lee’s Summit, Mo / LS North HS), Lyndi Garrison (Hastings, Mich / Thornapple Kellogg HS) and Amber Belisle (Roseville, Cal / Whitney HS) are due to breakout during the non-conference part of the schedule.

Pugliese (PUG-lees) is credited with eight goals and four assists in three previous seasons in Purple. She topped the team in shots (39) and shots on goal (18) in 2012. Garrison and Belisle (ba-LIE-yel) have each ripped the nets five times and have an assist to their career totes.

Nella Ramirez (Waco, Tx / Waco HS) and Amy Lambdin (Stockton, Cal / Jim Elliot Christian) anchor the outside flanks as backs. Ramirez covers more ground than a John Deere, while Lambdin is a tireless player with solid foot-skills.

The latter led the team in scoring last fall, netting six goals and adding two assists. She has eight career scores, but made the move to defense to shore up a young cast among the back foursome.

The two center backs are freshmen, Kaylie Cox (Midlothian, Tx / Midlothian HS) and Ashley Nop (Stockton, Cal / Lincoln HS).

Fans can keep up with the score via social media on Twitter at the following handle:  @SAGUSportsNet. There will be no other media coverage.

A detailed review of the match will be posted on the SAGU website on Wednesday night.

The Lady Lions travel over 300 miles to Pineville, Louisiana this weekend. They will take on Louisiana College (NCAA D3) at noon on Saturday. The Lady Wildcats are 0-2.

SAGU was scheduled to play Dallas Christian College on Sept. 9, at home. SAGU Sports Live was slated to broadcast the match in HD. A rash of injuries and other factors led the school to cancel this season due to a shortage of players.

The two schools continue a healthy history in athletics. The men's game will be played as scheduled, Sept. 9, at 5:00pm.

Coach Fortner is seeking to fill the void in the schedule with a single game in Waxahachie.

Fans are encouraged to check out the new Facebook fan page, SAGU Sports Network. It will bring video clips, highlights, Instagram photos, and provide links to the SSN on YouTube as well as a Tweet Feed of scoring updates on all sports.

The new page started less than two months ago and has over 600 ‘Likes.’ Be sure to add your support by doing likewise.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.

Note:  If link above is not active, check later to view the Game Day Preview. It is an 8-page printable PDF document, complete with player photos.