(COTTLEVILLE, MO) Two games into their sophomore campaign, St. Louis Lions WPSL have already achieved early-season benchmarks.
Paced by a two-goal performance from Maddie Bauer and a three-assist output from Cristina Rodriquez, the local franchise of the Women’s Premiere Soccer League (WPSL), claimed a 3-2 victory over FC Wichita Saturday at Tony Glavin Sports Complex.
The one goal triumph pushed the Lions’ record to 2-0 and sole possession of second place in the WSPL’s Central Region’s Heartland Conference (2-0-0, 6 points).
The two victories already equal the amount of wins recorded in last summer’s inaugural season (2-2-4, 10 points).
The opening minutes were highlighted by solid play of the newcomers to the Lions’ roster. At the seven-minute mark, midfielder Marjolen Nekesa, a NCCAA First Team All-American, connected with Hannah Friedrich (St. Louis University) and the forward scored her first-ever WPSL goal that gave the locals an 1-0 edge.
As the half progressed, the Lions continued to thwart Wichita opportunities with solid defensive play. With coverage by defenders Brionna Halverson, Stacie Muehling and Ellie Moreland, combined with the efforts of midfielders Rodriguez, Kaitlyn Sullivan, Raquel Rodriguez and a host of others, St. Louis retained their one-goal lead at intermission.
Halftime discussions made by Wichita certainly resulted in a pep in their step as they evened the match 1-1 at the 50:00 mark.
As the back half continued, the Lions came close to breaking the tie numerous times. Hannah Larson’s low line-drive on net eight minutes later was stopped by the Wichita goalie and Bauer’s attempt at 66:20 was denied.
Meanwhile Lions’ goalie Mary Niehaus, the SLU product that had to sit out last season due to injury, kept potentially-dangerous chances out of harm’s way.
St. Louis reclaimed the lead at the 82-minute mark as Bauer (O’Fallon, MO HS) hit the back of the net for her first WPSL goal and the Lions grabbed a 2-1 edge.
The locals gave themselves some breathing room three minutes later as Bauer claimed her second of the match, and the third assist for Rodriguez, and pushed the lead to 3-1.
Wichita scored during extra time to draw within one but the Lions held onto 3-2 victory to keep their season defeated.
Their toughest test of the season takes place Wednesday against perennial powerhouse Fire & Ice WPSL (0-0) this Wednesday at Althoff Catholic High School (Belleville, IL). The highly-anticipated match-up starts at 5 p.m. The teams drew in the two games played against each other last season.
Lions WPSL returns to the Tony Glavin Sports Complex on Saturday, June 15 against Elite Girls Academy.
Story constructed through the Lions WPSL Twitter feed with on-site coverage by Jacob Lorimer.)