Even with a pair of junior goalies returning this fall, Southwestern Assemblies of God University signed a talented up-and-coming netminder in Kathleen Espinosa.

The graduate of Corpus Christi’s Richard King High School brings her years of developing experience to Waxahachie. She was named Second Team All-District 28-5A the past two seasons for the Mustangs.

Their competition in the district included, Cibolo Steele, Corpus Christi Carroll, San Antonio E. Central, San Antonio Southwest, and South San Antonio.

King was ousted in the state tournament by San Antonio Northside Brandeis High School. Donning the forest green and white, the 5-foot-2-inch Espinosa earned the Thundering Herd’s Best Defensive Player honor as a senior. In 29 games between the pipes, she allowed just two goals per game and made 3.38 saves per outing.

“Kathleen has a great work ethic. I look for her to be a strong competitor for the starting position as goal-keeper,” SAGU head coach Mandy Fortner said. “Her desire to improve and her drive to work hard drew my attention. Her great attitude and a willingness to learn shows that she is coachable.”

King head coach Rebecca Armstrong, had high praise for her example, influence and productivity.

“Kathleen became the player and person everyone on the team looked up to,” Armstrong said. “Everyone could depend on her when things got tough. Her teammates knew she would step up and take care of business on and off the field.”

Espinosa has honed her skills in the net at the Pro Cat Goalkeeping Academy in Corpus Christi. She played club soccer for the San Antonio Lions under Head Coach Jesse Esquivel.

Espinosa also cited Coach Tony Gram as a tutor, gaining experience with his Corpus Christi Gulf Coast Soccer College Prep. She plans to study counseling at SAGU.

Kathleen was involved in the “Real Life” Corpus Student Ministry during her teen years and was a student leader with a local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The women’s soccer program at SAGU is entering its seventh season this fall. They posted their best record a year ago when they finished 6-11-1. After a 1-8 start, the Lady Lions went 5-3-1 down the stretch.

Moving up to the Sooner Athletic Conference, considered the NAIA’s premier league, offers a clear challenge for the Lady Lions.

Three of the other four teams were just one game under .500. SAGU scored 28 goals and allowed just 32. The Lady Lions pitched six shutouts, with four of them coming in a six-game span to end the season.

Haley Shingleton had a 6-6-1 record as well as turning in the half dozen times SAGU blanked an opponent. Her return this fall will have the 5-foot-5 junior expected to earn the starting role.

Shingleton allowed only 19 goals last season in 14 games, an average yield of 1.4 per game. That placed her fifth best in the Red River Athletic Conference.

The acquisition of Espinosa should add depth to the position.