San Antonio – St. Mary’s started against the top of the competition in its season opener Friday, falling to the No. 16th-ranked team in the nation, University of Central Oklahoma, 3-0 at the NISD Soccer Field.

Despite honing a national rank, Central Oklahoma (1-0) was evenly matched with the Rattlers (0-1) throughout the first half, as St. Mary’s (0-1) responded to an early Bronco goal with a spark from one of its newest members, Sam Lara (Fr., San Antonio), netting her first collegiate goal three minutes before halftime. 

But the Broncos pulled away in the second, silencing the stalemate by finding the goal twice more to end the game 3-1.

Taking the field for the first time as a Rattler, Lara eased into her role and potential as a scorer.

“At first I was nervous because it was my first game,” says Lara, who took three shots in Friday’s game. “But after some time I relaxed and knew what I had to do.”

The highlight of the Rattlers’ game in Lara’s goal was not unlike the goals of the Broncos, as Lara’s 20-foot shot tipped off goalie Meagan Burke’s hands before finding the back of the net. Like Lara, two of the three Bronco goals were unassisted and were scrambles at the net as saves turned to points against the Rattlers.

Keeper Paola Ostos (Jr., El Paso, Texas) initially saved the shot from Bronco Summer Grantham in the first half, but Grantham rebounded the deflected ball and found an open shot for Central Oklahoma’s first goal. The final Bronco goal resulted from a similar upset as Ostos pounded away Stephanie Fleig’s close call only to give Kate Foran a clear shot at the net.

Ostos totaled eight saves Friday in her 90 minutes of play. The Rattlers had seven shots on goal to the Broncos’ 11, with Emilie Snelson (Sr., Fairview, Texas), Leia Kirch (Sr., Carrollton, Texas), Annia Olivares (Sr., El Paso, Texas), Leah Snelson (Jr., Dallas) and Ashleigh Wells (Jr., Dalla) all having one shot on goal apiece. Lara ended the day with two.

Finding her way through the field in her first game as a Rattler, Lara found her chemistry with St. Mary’s as the team functions with both new and veteran players.

“It’s balanced,” says Lara. “We just have to know who plays well in certain areas.”

The Rattlers play their second game of the season against Wayland Baptist Saturday at the Northside Soccer Field at 11 a.m.

“We’re looking to bounce back,” Lara said.

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