Senior forward scores 'golden goal'
Garrison, Shingleton, Thornley make critical plays
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- For just the third time in their eight-year history, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University won their home opener, 2-1, in women’s soccer.
The match with Johnson and Wales University (Denver, Co) went to overtime before the Lady Lions struck for a ‘golden goal.’
A pair of SAGU seniors; Lyndi Garrison (Hastings, Mich / Thornapple Kellogg HS) and Noelle Pugliese (Lee’s Summit, Mo / LS North HS) teamed-up to produce a crowd-pleasing end.
Garrison took a pass near centerfield, and spun like a top past a defender. The 5-foot-4 forward angled in and chipped a touch pass to Pugliese (PUG-lees), who raced behind the backline.
She cut into the box from the left corner. With the option of passing to her right, she took on the keeper, Breggie Coffey, one-on-one. The goalie was perfectly positioned near the left post.
Pugliese, who was robbed of a goal with nine minutes to go in regulation, ripped a right-foot blast to Coffey’s right. Fired from eight yards out, the shot was just below the hip. The keeper, with arms extended, somehow got both mitts on the ball before it glanced into the net, just inside the upright.
The game-ending tally came with 3:17 remaining in what could have been two, 10-minute extra sessions. It occurred at the 96:43 mark on a sizzling afternoon.
“I can’t remember who gave me the ball,” Garrison said. “But I took it up the side of the field and saw Noelle. It was a great opportunity. I sent it to her and prayed she would get it in the goal. And she sure did! Yeah!”
Pugliese recalled the play vividly.
“I was ready to finish the game and I knew my teammates were too,” she said after the game. “I saw Lyndi taking the ball up the side of the field and called for the ball.”
“I took a quick touch behind the defender, beat her and tried to be patient the closer to the goal I got, so that I could place a low shot,” she continued. “I wasn't sure if it would go in when I saw their goalie go for the save. So I was ecstatic when I saw it go past her hands!”
“It was a great win and definitely a collective, team effort! I loved the celebration with my teammates after the whistle was blown. I think this will be a big confidence boost for our team.”
“I was so pleased with the outcome,” said third year Head Coach Mandy Fortner. “We haven’t won many home debuts.”
“We have been pushing through some injuries,” she explained. “It’s forced us to move some players around into positions that are not too familiar. But we’re a team, and they made the adjustments well. They also remained very effective in their roles.”
Deadlocked and running on ‘want to’ in triple-digit temps, both teams battled heroically. The mild breeze from the first half was absent after intermission, leaving only sweltering conditions.
Three times the officials stopped the match when a player yielded to the heat, each time stopping the action for a hydration break.
The Lady Lions entered the game bent on attacking the Wildcats with varied means; along the flanks, over the top and with through-balls. Early on they struck pay dirt.
Just 11:24 into the game SAGU drew first blood. From nearly the same spot on the pitch that Garrison set up the golden goal, sophomore Justine Lopez (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) delivered.
She lifted a flair over two defenders to Madi Thornley (Flower Mound, Tx / Marcus HS), who broke free, narrowly avoiding an offside call. Known in her prep days as “Thorn,” for her impact on opponents, she advanced towards the box.
Rayanna Gossett; the starting goalie, came out to cut off the angle. Thornley juked her with a move to her left, then tapped the ball into the open net.
Eleven minutes later the visitors leveled the score. Mary Emilie Potter passed quickly to Chay Stark, who trapped the ball outside the box near the left corner.
The 5’9 freshman ripped a laser to the left of SAGU goalie Haley Shingleton (Deer Park, Tx / Deer Park HS). She got her fingertips on it before the ball grazed the crossbar and then into the webbing at 22:12.
Each team would have other scoring chances, but most were from distances that allowed the keeper to make easy snares. The middle thirty minutes were like an 'air sandwich.' Not much to it, and definitely not satisfying. The heat led to players settling for shots rather than laboring for quality scoring bids.
“This was definitely a team effort,” Fortner added. “I am proud of how each player pushed themselves for their teammates.”
“We still have a lot to work on and we still have some (sidelined) players to add to the lineup. I'm excited to sense how much we will accomplish this year.”
The two squads each fired 17 shots, with eleven on goal. Both attempted three corner kicks, none resulting in a shot.
JWU was cited for eight of the game’s eleven fouls. They displayed a more physical brand of play, prompting Team Purple to use their speed up front.
Often, however, their timing lacked cohesion. Seven offside violations negated a number of breakaway chances.
Perhaps the play of the game, however, was turned in by the SAGU defense.
After Pugliese’s proposal to score into an exposed net was booted away at the goaline by defender Viktorya Barnhart, the Wildcats threatened with a counter attack.
Gossett began the game at GK. She donned a blue-jersey and lurked in the box as the Wildcats were mounting a strike in the 85th minute.
Lions junior keeper Shingleton was on the ground after a save, when Gossett located a loose ball on the left side. From point-blank range, five yards out, she banged what appeared to be a sure goal.
Shingleton, making her first appearance of the season, sprang to her feet and dove to her right, turning in a sensational midair grab to safeguard the tie. Fortner described it as “one amazing save.” The competitive Shingleton scooped up 10 saves on Wednesday.
SAGU had two occasions in the closing minutes to escape with a win.
In the first, Pugliese and Garrison, the protagonists, united in the scoring zone. Passing to one another, both were knocked down by the ‘Cats backline.
Then with 2:50 to go, Daniella Ramirez (Waco, Tx / Waco HS) set up a late prospect at the winner. The outside backer passed to Thornley, who spied Amber Belisle (Roseville, Cal / Whitney HS). She was open in a crease.
Belisle (bah-LIE-yul), who led the Pride with four shots, just missed the right post.
In the end it was Pugliese who cashed in with her ninth career score.
“Noelle played well and I was glad she was able to score the game winning goal,” quipped Fortner. “She deserved that one!”
Praise for an impact player
The coach also praised the play of junior Amy Lambdin (Stockton, Cal / Jim Elliot HS). Last year’s leading scorer played outside back, and was active throughout the game.
“Amy is always a huge impact for us,” Coach Fortner pointed out, “even as a defensive player. She took a great shot that grazed the crossbar. I always enjoy watching her play.”
Lambdin’s shot came in the 69th minute. She progressed up the left side before triggering a blast from 15-yards. It bounded off of the crook in the right corner.
The loss was especially tough for the upstart Wildcats. They also fell in overtime on Monday, 5-4, at Texas College. The Lady Steers are off to a 3-1-1 start.
Next up for the Lady Lions
Now 1-2 on the season, the Lady Lions travel 324 miles to Pineville, Louisiana (suburb of Alexandria) for their next game at noon on Saturday. Louisiana College (0-2) topped SAGU last year in Waxahachie, 2-0. The NCAA D3 Wildcats host Centenary College (0-1) on Thursday.
Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 469-658-2847.