Lady Buffs eliminates Rattlers in NCAA Tournament


DALLAS- After bad weather forced start time changes, the West Texas A&M women’s soccer team used a pair of first-half goals and key defensive positions to defeat St. Mary’s in the first. NCAA tournament round. The Lady Buffs’ 2-1 victory brings their overall record to 14-3-4.

Teams struggled to adapt to the soggy surface as players lost their footing early on. St. Mary’s found the game’s first attacking chance as Sydney Varela fired a shot Reagan Heelan. Heelan kept the game scoreless as she fended off the ball and allowed her defense to eliminate the threat. During the next WT attack, Asha James sent a shot on goal, but Rattlers keeper Rebecca Difronzo made her own save. St. Mary’s saw Lady Buff’s defense stand tall once again as the WT backline eliminated another Rattlers scoring chance moments later.

The Lady Buffs continued to look for ways through the St. Mary’s defense during the first half. WT created an opportunity in the 18e minute James found Maria Frances Serrant inside the box, but Serrant couldn’t find a good shot on the ball as Difronzo made the save. The Lady Buffs broke through in the 27the minute as James played a curling ball to Serrant. Serrant grazed the ball with his header, beating Difronzo at the far post. Four minutes later, the Rattlers capitalized on a defensive error by WT, tying the game at one. The Lady Buffs regained control of the lead as quickly as the Rattlers leveled the game as James found it Nicole Gray in front of goal. WT retained the lead for the remainder of the first half while beating St. Mary’s 12-7.

Despite the conditions, WT continued their first-half momentum into the second. The Lady Buffs nearly extended their lead to two as Bailey Murray snatched a shot from outside the box but watched it unfold. WT’s missed chances allowed St. Mary’s to advance down the court, putting the Lady Buffs on their back foot. As the pressure mounted on the WT backline, the Lady Buffs held their ground, preventing St. Mary’s from finding another equaliser. With less than 10 minutes to play, Reagan Matacale looked to give the WT an insurance goal but his shot also went past the post. With less than two minutes left to play, Juni Ejere saw his equalizing shot go over the crossbar. Satisfied with the one-goal lead, WT worked possession to run the rest of the time out and move on to the next round.

The Lady Buffs advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they will face the nation’s top-ranked team, Dallas Baptist. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at Patriot Soccer Field.


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