Goals rain down in Hammond

Lady Lions soccer

Junior defender Lauren Lorentz celebrates with her teammates after scoring the game winning goal for the Lady Lions in a 1-0 victory over the Abilene Christian University Wildcats. 
The Lion’s Roar / Elizabeth Brown

The Lady Lions soccer team took down two Southland Conference opponents this weekend, strengthening their standing in Conference. On Friday, they played the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, winning 7-1. The following Sunday, they faced off against the Abilene Christian University Wildcats, winning 1-0.

Leading Friday night was senior midfielder Gisenia Utreras, who scored her first career hat trick, taking three goals and an assist. She now leads the team with seven goals and assists.

“I felt great about the hat trick,” said Utreras. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates. We really connected as a team.”

Freshman forward and midfielder Sofia Olsson added her own goal and an assist while the rest of the goals were completed by freshman forward and midfielder Vanessa Arzaluz, sophomore midfielder Maggie Ramsey and junior forward Bri Singh.

“We are a family, everybody needs each other, and we play as a team, we fight, we win and we lose as a team,” said Olsson.

The match against the Cardinals has been the Lady Lions’ highest scoring game of the season thus far. Furthermore, the match was also the Alumni Game, and hosted approximately 40 former Lady Lions who were honored during halftime to kick off the Alumni Weekend.

The Lady Lions took the lead early in the game, scoring in the 10th minute by Olsson, with another by Ramsey from a free kick by Utreras in the 18th minute. Following that, Utreras scored her first of three in the 26th minute, and Singh closed out the first half with her own goal minutes later, giving the Lady Lions a 4-0 lead.

“I thought it was a fantastic performance,” said Head Coach Blake Hornbuckle. “We had 40 plus alumni cheering us on in the stands along with the others, hundreds of fans that were here. We were just really pleased with the great fan support, and it made a difference for our team.”

When the match resumed for the second half, Utreras brought another ball into the net and after a foul on Olsson, she shot another in on a penalty kick.

In the 67th minute, the Cardinals made their only score of the game, narrowly avoiding a shutout score, and in the 86th minute Arzaluz scored the final goal of the game. 

“Gisenia really straps it on in goal and does not quit,” said Hornbuckle. “She had a great day at receiving, creating and finishing. [For Olsson] when you recruit players, you hope there is future growth, it’s much like an investment, and I feel like we made an incredible investment in Sofia because every day, every game she continues to get better.”

For the match on Sunday against the Wildcats, rain poured during the first half, but it did not dissuade fans, including junior kinesiology major John LeGrange.

“I’ve been really excited for this game, and I was happy it was not cancelled,” said LeGrange. “The girls played really well.” 

The Lady Lions were evenly matched against the Wildcats and did not score until the 75th minute in the second half when junior defender Lauren Lorentz headed in a corner kick by sophomore midfielder Ana Zadro.

“That was really great,” said Lorentz. “At first, I didn’t think it was going in, and when I saw it hit the top of the net, it just felt great.”

The win brought the team to 3-0 in conference and extended its unbeaten streak to seven. 

Junior goal keeper Hope Sabadash finished with six saves, earning another shut out for the season.

“Abilene Christian is a very smart team,” said Hornbuckle. “They’re smart in how they play, and they were a tough team to break down. Fortunately, we had great service on the set piece, and Lorentz got it in the net. Maddie Allen had a fantastic day in back. She and Cheyenne Maxwell did extremely well on the backline today, and I thought the play of Maggie Ramsey in the midfield was great. And, Bri Singh was a fantastic force today also.”

The Lady Lions’ next match will be on Friday when they travel to Houston Baptist University to take on the Huskies at 7:00 p.m.