San Antonio – Felicia Lombardo stood in the net Saturday, holding tightly onto the left post.
The St. Mary’s University goalkeeper had gone down with an injury moments earlier, but the freshman from New Braunfels, Texas valiantly remained in what was a pivotal game against rival St. Edward’s University. But no longer able to stand freely, she had no choice but to be taken out with the Rattlers up by a goal with 35 minutes remaining.
Fortunately for St. Mary’s, backup Mari Edwards (So., Apex, N.C.) was ready to build on what Lombardo had started.
The Rattlers held on to beat St. Edward’s 1-0 at St. Mary’s Soccer Field, delivering a statement to poll voters with a triumph over the nation’s sixth-ranked team in the team’s regular-season finale. Freshman Jamey Coronado, a San Antonio native, delivered the winning goal in the ninth minute of a classic “Battle of the Saints” matchup.
“I’m in a lot of pain, but that win definitely helped it out a little bit,” Lombardo said afterward. “(Mari) was incredible. I love her for it. She really stepped up when she had to. It was great.”
The only question left is whether the Rattlers now will be given the privilege to have their season continue beyond the regular season.
St. Mary’s must finish ranked in the top six of the South Central region in order to earn a regional-tournament berth. The Rattlers (10-6-2, 7-2-1 in Heartland Conference) entered the week ranked No. 8 in an unofficial poll from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, but they were unranked in the official poll that counts.
“We just have to hope for the best,” Lombardo said. “We did our part.”
Combining forces to stymie a potent Hilltopper offense, Lombardo saved five shots and Edwards saved four to help the Rattlers record their seventh shutout of the season.
The remarkable part about Edward’s performance was that she actually received playing time as a field player before being put in the net. For Lombardo, the performance was enough to bring her season’s goal-against average to 0.76, percentage points behind the program’s all-time single-season record (0.71).
St. Mary’s was outshot 12-5 and had zero corner kicks to St. Edward’s 13. Yet somehow, they – even Lombardo – managed to hang on.