There was much to like in the women’s soccer debut by Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Saturday. While a 1-0 setback at the hands of Wayland Baptist University was not what they had hoped, the Lady Lions took a number of positives from the loss.
“We did what we had to do with what we had,” said Mandy Fortner following her first game as the team’s head coach. “We were without three or four starters and had to play part of the second half while short-handed.”
The Lady Lions were without forwards Daniela Garcia and Natalie Pena for the game. Partway through the first half the squad suffered the loss of Daniella Ramirez. An offensive catalyst as a center-midfielder, she had to be carried off the pitch with a sprained ankle.
Before the half ended, starting goalkeeper Haley Shingleton injured her right leg, though she was capably replaced by Brooke Burger.
“Overall, it was a very good match,” Fortner pointed out. “We could’ve won had we much offense at all. But, under the circumstances, we did pretty well. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I like this team. The players stayed strong until the end, which is a tribute to their conditioning.”
The setting of the game was trying for both teams, as temperatures reached 106.
Wayland controlled the pace of the game from the outset, dominating at times in the midfield. While they did fire a number of shots (23), most of them were from a distance that both Shingleton and Burger stifled. The Pioneers were aggressive on offense and defense, and took advantage of SAGU’s inaccurate passing game.
SAGU’s defense held their own, making tackles, forcing low-percentage shots or turnovers. Leading the way, according to Fortner was Noelle Pugliese, who had a solid game in all phases. Co-Captains Ashley Nerat and Jessica Powell anchored the backline. Nerat stepped in and blocked a handful of shots and played fearlessly.
SAGU hosts Mid-America today at 3 p.m.