Garcia's goal gives St. Edward's 1-0 victory against Texas A&M-Commerce
DURANGO, Colo. -- St. Edward's midfielder Ari Garcia had only scored one goal all season, but she made her second one special as her tally gave Hilltoppers a 1-0 victory against Texas A&M-Commerce in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday afternoon at Dirks Field. The victory advanced the Hilltoppers to the Round of 32 where they will face host Fort Lewis on Sunday.
In the first 15 minutes of action, Texas A&M-Commerce (11-6-2) was the aggressor. The Lions controlled most of the action in the Hilltopper end. They were able to get two shots off but neither gave Hilltopper starting goalkeeper Danielle Licarione any trouble as they went wide.
St. Edward's (17-0-2) finally got things going in the 17th minute when they gained a corner kick and Lauren Heller followed with a shot. During the next three minutes, St. Edward's would gain another corner kick and two more shots. Mikayla Engel had one of the shots, as her header went off the cross bar.
St. Edward's would have two more opportunities to strike when Ally Lindquist came up with two headers in the final five minutes of the half that were both blocked by defenders near the goal line. The Hilltoppers outshot the Lions in the first half 10-4.
The second half opened with TAMU-Commerce on the attack. The Lions had three consecutive corner kicks within the first two minutes of action. The Hilltopper defense was up to the challenge as they turned away all three opportunities.
St. Edward's countered with another header shot in the 51st minute. Finally in the 55th minute, the Hilltoppers struck gold. Heller took off down the left side of the field. She cut the ball back and found a streaking Garcia right at the penalty spot, where the she fired a shot to the right post and scored.
With the lead, the Hilltopper defense buckled down. They allowed one shot by TAMU-Commerce that was off target. St. Edward's tried to put the game out of reach with a late goal but the Lion goalkeeper made three key saves down the stretch.
TAMU-Commerce had one last chance with time winding down by winning a corner kick, but time ran out on the Lions.