When Murray State College women’s soccer coach Cortney Wiesler hit the recruiting trail this past offseason, confidence, controlling the players in front of her and controlling the box were three qualities that she sought in a goalie.
Wiesler, who is in her second season as Lady Aggies coach, says freshman Julia Villalobos possesses all of those characteristics.
“She’s just got that personality,” Wiesler said.
Entering Sunday’s home match against Brookhaven College, Murray State needed Villalobos to be at her best.
The Lady Aggies, down to four players, received several diving saves from Villalobos.
Villalobos’ heroics were only outdone by Brookhaven forward Joseline Sorto. Sorto netted a hat trick for the visiting Lady Bears in their 4-1 victory at Regional Park.
“They were good,” Villalobos said of Brookhaven College. “I’m not going to lie, they work the ball very well. it was just one of those deals where they gave me a good workout, too. I just gave it all that I had.”
This day was not just about soccer.
It was also about recognizing those who have fallen in the line of duty.
Prior to the star of the match, a fire truck belonging to the Ardmore Fire Department, an American flag hanging on the top of the ladder, pulled in behind the north end zone.
Ardmore Police Department and Emergency Medical Service vehicles were also on hand.
No, there wasn’t an emergency.
Murray State sold wrist bands, T-shirts, took donations and auctioned game-worn jerseys online — part of a collaborative effort with the Dallas Fallen Officers Foundations.
All of the money raised will be donated to the families of those officers who lost their lives in a shooting that took place in Downtown Dallas on July 7. The T-shirts and wristbands were a hot item Sunday.
At halftime, the Ardmore Fire and Police departments play an exhibition soccer match. The fire department won 2-0 on penalty kicks.
“When I first formed this plan in my mind, that was a big piece of it, to have that flag waving right next to the field,” Wiesler said. “Whenever it went up, it was really powerful. We were excited to get the help from Ardmore P.D. and Ardmore Fire. We had a pretty nice turnout, so it will be exciting to see how much money we have raised.”
Brookhaven spent most of the match’s first 45 minutes with possession in Murray State’s half of the field.
Brookhaven’s best chance through the game’s first 38 minutes came from Linda Mollins.
Mollins deflected a Lexia Martinez pass from the right wing, only to have her foot kick saved on a diving stop by Villalobos.
“She is just really athletic,” Wiesler said of Villalobos. “She reads the game so well. She is a fighter. She controls her box. She is one of those kids that you feel confident having behind you and in the goal. I think she played well today. She made a lot of great saves, probably should have been more than — what was it? — four to one. She kept us in the game until late. We just really broke down and gave up a couple more goals.”
There minutes later, Martinez booted a floating kick over the head and arms of the Murray State goalkeeper, for a 1-0 Brookhaven lead.
At halftime, Murray State discussed about the necessity to get more touches for freshman Kaytlin Kanode.
Making short, on-point passes on the counter attack, Kanode tallied the equalizer nine minutes into the second half. She received a pass and outran two Lady Bears defenders and deposited the ball to the left of Brookhaven goalkeeper Destiny Flores.
“She stood on the other side of the field and hardly touched the ball,” Wiesler said. “I said, ‘We need to change the point of attack much faster and get Kaytlin the ball and let her what she does best, which is running at people.’ She’s incredibly fast and incredibly athletic. About five to 10 minutes into the half, there’s a goal. We didn’t, obviously, continue using that, but it worked at least once.”
Murray State was unable to build on the momentum of Kanode’s goal.
Sorto tallied the match’s final three goals. Her redirection of a rebound off the hands of Villalobos with 28:13 remaining put Brookhaven in the lead for good. Sorto added two more goals before the final whistle sounded to complete the hat track.
“That was a big momentum swing and we couldn’t handle it,” Wiesler said. “We’re young and we only have seven returners. It’s learning all of these things for the first time. Hopefully, we’ll learn something from this loss and take it to the next game.”