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Espinosa, defense shine in the rain

SAGU plays at UHV on Wednesday; at home on Saturday at 1pm

espinosa-at-lumpkinsWAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  They are like arduous lawyers. The defense of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s soccer team simply 'never rests.'

On Friday night the Lady Lions battled tooth and nail with Our Lady of the Lake University.

Like last year’s 1-0 game, in which SAGU won on a late goal, OLLU scored in the 73rd minute to escape with a 1-0 decision over the Purple Pride.

The Lady Saints, who lead the Red River Athletic Conference, are now 7-1-1.  Their only loss was when they were shutout, 1-0, by University of the Incarnate Word (NCAA Division I).

In allowing only a lone goal, SAGU kept the Lady Halos' scoring lower than all but their loss to UIW.

After a scoreless first half, OLLU didn’t put the ball in the back of the net until a beautiful play finally broke the ice.

Brianna Otis sent a sharp entry pass into the box, where Alissa Villarreal one-timed the ball with a deflection. It ricocheted beyond the grasp of SAGU freshman goalie Kathleen Espinosa (Corpus Christi, Tx / Richard King HS).

It was the first career goal for Villarreal, a 5’5 sophomore. Afterwards she credited the assist from Otis in which the ball glanced off the side of Villarreal’s right foot.

Espinosa, who started for just the second time, had no chance to prevent the bang-bang play from scoring. She made 11 saves, the same total she turned away in her other start between the pipes.

The game was moved from the SAGU campus to the artificial surface at Lumpkins Stadium due to heavy rains the previous 24 hours.

The slick surface was fast, the opponent very good, and Espinosa met the challenge.

SAGU performed superbly on defense, with several players doing a yeoman job in defusing the Saints attack.

Besides Espinosa, whose positioning and decision-making was stellar, Vicky Hagemeier (Kalemie, Congo/Complex Scolaire Thabiti) and Daniella Ramirez (Waco, Tx / Waco HS), both junior defenders, were solid.

A pair of freshmen, Kaylie Cox (Midlothian, Tx / Midothian HS) and Madi Thornley (Flower Mound, Tx / Marcus HS), like timed metronomes, fought back and forth tirelessly.

Cox also provided SAGU with their best prospect at tickling the twine. She unloaded a direct kick from 30 yards out prior to halftime.

The frozen rope cleared a wall of defenders, and then froze the keeper as the ball eluded her as well. It grazed the crossbar, narrowly missing a stunning goal.

In the end the defensive effort was as obvious as the offense’s lack of a scoring combination. The Lady Lions, 1-5 overall, have produced just four goals in six games, last in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

The Saints outshot the hosts by a wide margin (20-2), almost identical to last year’s totals (22-2).

The impact of third year Head Coach Mandy Fortner, strengthening the midfield and the back line, has given the Lady Lions the moxie to contend.

SAGU returns to the pitch on Wednesday, September 25, when they take on the University of Houston at Victoria (NAIA).

The Jaguars are 4-5, scoring 18 and allowing 25.

The 3:00pm game will be played on their campus field, “The Cage” (3007 North Ben Wilson, Victoria, TX 77901).

SAGU plays their first Sooner Athletic Conference match this Saturday at home at 1:00pm. Oklahoma City University (4-3) is nationally ranked.

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

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