UTSA soccer continues strong start to the season

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

Halee Griffin passes the ball off during UTSA game against Houston Baptist on Sunday. The freshman, from Hutto, Texas, notched the first assist of her career during the Roadrunner’s victory over Lamar University on Friday night. Griffin has appeared in all eight games for the ‘Runners this year. (Bella Nieto/The Paisano)

UTSA soccer (5-2-1) was back in action last week as they hosted the Drury Hotels Invitational here in San Antonio. The Roadrunners took on the Lamar University Cardinals (2-5) and the Houston Baptist Huskies (0-5-2). The ‘Runners got off to a good start in game one, finishing the Cardinals off by a score of 2-1, but they ran into some troubles with the Huskies, being held to a 1-1 draw. 

The action got started on Friday against Lamar, and the ‘Runners got things going early. In just the second minute and their first shot of the game, forward Kiran Singh scored her first career goal taking a cross and redirecting it into the top of goal to give UTSA an early lead. Not content with just a one-goal lead, UTSA continued to press for an insurance goal, but despite putting another seven shots on net, they were shut out the rest of the first half. The start of the second half saw a different tone emerge, with both teams focused on limiting offensive chances and neither coming close to breaking things open. However, in the 81st minute that changed. Marlee Fray and Halee Griffin connected on a series of nice passes to then find Alissa Stewart cutting into the box. Stewart settled the ball with her first touch before poking it past the keeper for her first career goal to double UTSA’s advantage to 2-0. This proved crucial to the outcome of the game as Lamar’s Isela Ramirez scored a goal in the 84th minute to draw Lamar back within one. UTSA hung on from there, though, and picked up their fifth win of the season.

The ‘Runners’ second and final game of the Invitational was one in which they were not rewarded for the dominance they showed. UTSA fell behind early in the 16th minute when Houston Baptist’s Anna Briseno managed to sneak a ball past Jil Schneider to put the ‘Runners in an early 0-1 hole. UTSA pushed hard for an equalizer the rest of the half, outshooting the Huskies 11-5, but they were not rewarded as Houston Baptist keeper Karle Ramirez played an excellent game. UTSA kept the pressure on to start the second half, registering eight shots in the first 15 minutes of the half, but again came up empty. It was going to take something special for the ‘Runners to break through and luckily they got it from a familiar source. In the 62nd minute, Ellis Patterson unleashed an absolute scorcher from outside the box, finding the top right corner of the net to tie the game at one apiece. 

UTSA defender Deja Sandoval readies to meet the ball with a header during the game against Houston Baptist. Sandoval has started in seven of the ‘Runners eight games so far this season. (Bella Nieto/The Paisano)

UTSA continued to dominate the flow of the game, outshooting the Huskies 12-1 in the second half, but they could not find the go-ahead goal and the game went to extra time. In extra time, UTSA did not allow the Huskies to register a single shot, but conversely, were held off the scoreboard despite putting up six shots in the two periods of extra time, the game ended in a 1-1 draw. UTSA outshot the Huskies by a final margin of 29-6. 

The draw brought UTSA’s pre-conference schedule slate to a close with a record of 5-2-1. UTSA will open conference play on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. in San Antonio against Old Dominion. The game can also be seen on CUSA.tv.