San Antonio – On the day honoring their achievements throughout their Rattler careers, St. Mary’s seniors put on their best Saturday as two seniors connected in a 3-0 shutout over the University of Texas-Permian Basin.
Saturday’s game was a perfect showing for St. Mary’s four honored seniors, as the shutout complemented the work of senior defenders Annia Olivares (El Paso, Texas) and Carolyn Martin (San Antonio), who held the Falcons (1-13, 0-6 in conference) to just three shots for the game. It also highlighted the work of senior midfielders Leia Kirch (Carrollton, Texas) and Emilie Snelson (Fairview, Texas), who both connected in the win.
Amy Adkins (So., El Paso, Texas), who is midway through her Rattler career, was the first Rattler to put up a goal Saturday. Ten minutes into the game, Adkins found the rebound off the blocked shot from Jamey Coronado (Jr., San Antonio) for a close-range goal that brought the Rattlers to a quick 1-0 lead.
Halfway through the first half, the stats of Kirch that were to be read during the halftime ceremony had to be changed.
The senior expertly beat out several Falcon defenders in a race toward the net to find her open shot – a diagonal angle that sailed past the Falcon keeper to the bottom-left corner to mark her eighth goal on the season. Kirch’s goal Saturday officially surpassed her total goal count for last season, which the midfielder achieved in St. Mary’s last home game of the season.
“It’s incredible,” says Kirch, who leads the Rattlers in both scoring and assists. “Last year I got seven with my ACL brace, which I thought was great. I just wanted to beat it this year in my senior year. It’s been everything and more that I hoped it would be.”
Kirch’s prowess this season around the net has her as the top scorer for the Rattlers as well as among the top five scorers in the Heartland Conference, currently tied for fourth place. Kirch is also currently second in the conference for assists with five on the season.
After Snelson’s halftime congratulations, she put up her first season goal four minutes before her last-ever St. Mary’s home game was complete.
The midfielder saw her opportunity when the Falconss keeper was drawn from the box. Snelson sliced in a close-range goal off a rebound, sealing the Rattlers’ (8-6, 2-5 in conference) victory on Senior Day.
Just as the Rattlers outshined the Falcons in goals, St. Mary’s also topped in shots, outshooting the Falcons 19-3 with 13 shot on goal. Kirch led the day with five shots and four shot on goal, followed by fellow goal-scorer Adkins with two shots, both on goal. All recording one shot on goal for St. Mary’s last home game were Rattlers Snelson, Leah Snelson (Jr., Dallas), Claire Etter (Jr., Boerne, Texas), Amanda Cardoza (Jr., El Paso, Texas), Coronado, Sam Lara (Fr., San Antonio) and Ashleigh Wells (Jr., Dallas).
Senior Day signaled St. Mary’s last home game on the season. The Rattlers will play their last four games on the road, where the outcome of three of these games will determine the Rattlers’ shot at the conference title. St. Mary’s will face St. Edward’s, Dallas Baptist and Newman University in the upcoming weeks – teams that hold the No.1, 2 and 4 ranks in conference, respectively. In order to make the tournament, St. Mary’s must defeat at the least Newman University, which holds the same conference record after today’s win. The Rattlers fell to each of these competitors in their first look earlier this season – stats that Kirch and the rest of the Rattlers are well aware of.
“We came out slow in the beginning which is hurting us now,” says Kirch, who has 21 points on the season. “But the chemistry we have as a team is there; we just have to keep finishing and performing every game. On the road is going to be a big challenge for us, but I know we can pull it out.”
St. Mary’s first of its final four games will be against provisional Heartland Conference contender Oklahoma Christian University Thursday in Edmond, Okla. at 5 p.m.