Women’s soccer surges into 16th season with new leadership

The OLLU women’s soccer team embarks on its 16th season this fall with an opening match at home today against NCAA D3 Texas Lutheran University. The squad will vie for its seventh Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) regular-season title and sixth postseason championship.

Coaching staff
The Saints are led by former player and first-time Head Coach Victoria Vazquez, who joined the staff this summer. Assistant Coach Max Cruz returns for his second season.

Vazquez played for OLLU from 2010-2013 and was part of the team that won the university’s first-ever RRAC regular season and tournament titles in 2013. She was an All-Conference recipient and received numerous offensive and defensive players of the week awards, as well as many academic achievement honors.

Preseason rankings
The Saints went 8-4-7 overall and 5-1-5 in conference play last year for a third-place finish. Texarkana won the RRAC championship last year and is picked to repeat this season.

The Saints are picked to finish in second place, followed by the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) in third, LSU-Alexandria (LSUA) in fourth, Louisiana Christian University (LCU) in fifth, Texas A&M University-San Antonio (TAMUSA) in sixth, the University of the Southwest (USW) in seventh, LSU-Shreveport (LSUS) in eighth, Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) in ninth, Jarvis Christian University (JCU) in 10th, Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) in 11th, Paul Quinn College (PQC) in 12th,  North American University (NAU) in 13th and Texas College (TC) in 14th. XULA and NAU will compete in RRAC soccer for the first time this season.

Schedule overview (Numbers after school indicate all-time records.)
The non-conference schedule begins with a home game today against NCAA D3 Texas Lutheran University (7-2) and a competition at NCAA D2 Texas A&M International University (2-0) on Saturday. Both contests will be scrimmages before the Saints open regular season play at Oklahoma City University (4-3-1) on Sept. 2. The remaining non-conference matches are against the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (1-3-2) on the road on Sept. 4 and at home versus Wayland Baptist University (5-1) on Sept. 9.

Conference opponents LSUS (7-3-3) and TAMUT (5-2-1) arrive in San Antonio for the first conference matches on Sept. 14 and Sept. 16. OLLU heads north to battle TC (14-0) on Sept. 21 and JCU (8-0-1) on Sept. 23. They return home to face USW (17-5) on Sept. 28 and PQC (8-0) on Sept. 30.

The October schedule starts with a crosstown rivalry against TAMUSA (1-0-1) on the road on Oct. 7. The Saints host XULA on Oct. 12 and NAU on Oct. 14. The squad heads to Louisiana to face LSUA (9-1-1) on Oct. 19 and LCU (2-2) on Oct. 21. The last home match before the postseason tournament is against UHV (14-1-2) on Oct. 26. The Saints wrap up the regular season by battling HTU (12-3) in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 28. Vazquez said, “This conference is extremely challenging and every team has to show up and fight and not take anything for granted.”

Senior class
The Saints will be led by 10 experienced seniors this season. Samantha Benne, Ijayla Criswell, Rachel Dziuba, Madison Herrera, Samantha Nava, Olivia Olivarez, Tess Pitcher, Jaylin Seto, Kyleigh Spree-Kolos, Deanna Tarango and Ez Valles highlight the class. Spree-Kolos holds the Saints record with nine shots on goal in a single game against Howard Payne University in 2021. Dziuba, Herrera, Spree-Kolos and Tarango were named RRAC All-Conference last year. Valles ranks second among all Saints with four goals in a match against JCU in 2021.   

The Saints will return seven juniors in addition to the large senior class. The group consists of Katelyn Brandao, Cassandra Jimenez, Sara Nishiyama, Haven Ortiz, Lyndee Rheinberger, Samantha Valadez and Dusty Van Huss. Brandao, Jimenez and Nishiyama are all transfer athletes. Brandao joins the team from California, while Jimenez and Nishiyama are Texas natives.

The sophomore class features nine players, including Bethany Garr, Sara Garza, Vivianna Gutierrez, Lilliana Martinez, Kaitlyn Olivas, Gabrielle Pace, Savanna Serna, London Suarez and Emerson Weiler. Olivas shined in her first season with a team-leading 10 goals and was named to the RRAC All-Freshman Team.

There will be eight new faces on the Saints roster. Sofia Davila, Elizabeth Gregurek, Allison Kostoch, Tara Madrid, Odet Mota, Mia Saenz, Anisia Serrano and Leah Tapia will provide added depth for OLLU. Vazquez commented, “We have an exciting class coming in and I’d like to thank Max Cruz for the recruiting he’s done.”

Live-streaming and fan experience
The Saints home matches will be live streamed at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/ollusaints/. Fans can expect a great atmosphere with a video scoreboard that will feature player introductions, goal scoring celebrations and more.