Sydney Varela goes airborne to pass the ball downfield in the quarterfinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament in Lubbock.
Sydney Varela goes airborne to pass the ball downfield in the quarterfinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament in Lubbock.

LUBBOCK, Texas – After scoring only one goal or less in each of its last seven games, the St. Mary’s Women’s Soccer team had an offensive explosion in the Quarterfinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament on Tuesday, defeating Lubbock Christian 3-1.

The Rattlers (12-3-4) advance to the semifinals at top-seeded and #1-ranked DBU to face the Patriots at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 4. It is the first time in school history the Gold & Blue have advanced to the semifinals.

“The team showed tremendous grit,” said Head Coach Kevin Driggs. “Going down a goal early and responding the way we did is a testament to the character of the group. They stepped up in a big way.”

St. Mary’s responded after the Lady Chaps (8-3-8) scored in the third minute for the early 1-0 lead.

In the 22nd minute, senior Kylie Von Holle (Midland, Texas) stole the ball near midfield and found senior Juni Ejere (Weatherford, Texas) just outside the penalty box. Ejere dribbled in and shot over the outstretched fingers of the LCU goalkeeper to knot the score. It is the third assist of the season for Von Holle and Ejere’s 11th goal, moving her into a tie for seventh on the school’s single-season list.

The teams entered halftime knotted at 1-1 on the scoreboard and each had seven shots with LCU leading in shots on goal, 3-2.

Three minutes into the second half it was freshman Sydney Varela’s (El Paso, Texas) turn to hit the back of the net. Varela dribbled upfield, splitting a pair of defenders to just outside the penalty box and booted in the goal with her left foot into the lower right-hand corner for her second game-winner of the season.

In the 58th minute, senior Megan Copeland (San Antonio) iced the game on a free kick when she was fouled. Copeland was just off the center circle and sent the ball through the gloves into the top left corner of the net for the 3-1 score.

Sophomore goalkeeper Rebecca Difronzo (Bari, Italy) made two saves after the early goal by the Chaps. The defense in front of her limited LCU to no shots on goal in the second half and only four shots.

Individual player and team notes

  • Juni Ejere is now tied for seventh in St. Mary’s single season history with 11 goals. She is tied with Amy Hocking (1998), Kyle Hyslop (2005) and Kaitie Kasperitis (2011).
  • This is the first time in school history the Rattlers have reached the semifinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament in their fourth year in the league. The team lost in the quarterfinals each of the last two years (In 2020, the Rattlers went 1-1, but the field was larger).
  • Tuesday was the third-time in school history the Rattlers faced the same team in the first round of the conference tournament that they played in the regular season finale. StMU is now 2-1 in those tournament contests.
  • The Rattlers ruined the Lady Chaps undefeated record at home this season. LCU entered the game 3-0-6 at the LCU Soccer & Track Facility. Both the Rattlers men’s and women’s soccer teams gave LCU its only home loss of the year, though the men’s team is also hosting the opening round of the LSC Tournament.
  • StMU is now 3-6-1 in Lubbock and has won the last two there after winning the 2021 regular season finale 1-0. The Rattlers inched closer in the all-time series with the Chaps, improving to 5-8-3 since 2010.
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