San Antonio – First came Ashlyn Leighton’s dead-on shot into the wind that narrowly missed the net for St. Mary’s University, ricocheting off the crossbar in the first half against Northwood University on Friday.
Then came Carolina Hernandez’s strike from the left side that barely sailed high, and later Leia Kirch’s attempt that drew Northwood goalkeeper Lyndzey Goff out of the box but couldn’t quite slip through her grasp.
There was no denying the Rattlers opened their season in full-on attack mode before their home crowd, outshooting Northwood by a wide margin and spending the majority of the second half in their opponent’s territory.
Unfortunately, none of the Rattlers’ 19 shots could find the net on a windy afternoon, as Northwood held on 1-0 in the season opener for both schools.
Northwood’s Natalie Carter scored the decisive goal at the 60:12 mark to win the game, which was part of the St. Mary’s Invitational.
“We had so many more shots than they did, so many better passes,” freshman midfielder Jamey Coronado (San Antonio) said. “We just made one mistake.”
From the moment the Rattlers fell behind midway through the second half, it looked as if they were destined to come back.
Minutes after surrendering the go-ahead goal, Hernandez (El Paso, Texas), a senior forward, struck from the left. Seconds later, sophomore defender Annia Olivares (El Paso, Texas) weaved through three defenders to create a beautiful shot from about 20 yards out – only it was denied by Goff.
Senior forward Melinda Gentry (Plano, Texas), Leighton (Houston) and sophomore defender Leia Kirch (Carrollton, Texas) all had similar such moments in the second half.
Leighton, Gentry, Coronado and Kirch each attempted at least three shots, including three on goal from Gentry.
Though none of the shots ended up going in, they at least showed the Rattlers what they can become in the coming weeks.
“The last 20 minutes, that’s the way we should have played the entire game,” Coronado said. “It’s something we can learn from.”
St. Mary’s returns to the field on Sunday, when it takes on Southwestern Oklahoma State University at 11 a.m. at the St. Mary’s Soccer Field.