Sanchez shines in stellar performance versus Blazers

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PHOTO BY DAVID CAMPBELL/UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHER

Junior midfielder Isabella Beortegui dribbles the ball down the field during the game between the Hornets and the Gamecocks.

Kendal Manns, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

The Sept. 10 matchup between the Alabama State University Lady Hornets (1-4-1) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers (1-5-1) ends in a double-overtime 0-0 tie.

The game highlighted a stellar performance from ASU star goalie Sheila Sanchez. Sanchez had a career-high 20 saves against the Blazers, all 20 of which were on goal. 

Head coach Jodie Smith was very proud of Sanchez’s performance and sung her praises. 

“Sheila stood tall in the net for us tonight, and this was easily the most impressive goalkeeper performance in school history,” Smith said.

She had 14 saves in regulation and then made three more in the first overtime period. Her three most important saves would come in the final overtime period, where she blocked three more shots from point-blank range. 

As great of a performance as Sanchez had, she was helped tremendously by the rest of the Lady Hornets’ defense. Kristen Thomas, reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Defender of the Week, Paige Patton, Kayleigh O’Neal, and Madison Tyler were all instrumental in the phenomenal defensive effort in this game. Senior forward McKenna Wiscombe, who moved to the backline in this game, was also a big part of the defense. 

What makes this defensive performance special is how many shots they faced. The Blazers outshot the Hornets 39-8 in this game, and to have none of them go in says a lot about this team, especially Thomas, Patton, Neal, Tyler, and Sanchez. 

Smith emphasized this point. 

“This is a huge moment for our program with a big result on the road,” Smith said. “We were definitely in a bend but didn’t break defense tonight as we faced a lot of shots.”

Despite not connecting on any of their shots, freshman midfielder Camila Jimenez led the way with two shots. Other Lady Hornets that recorded a shot were Isabella Beortegui, Grace Norbury, Kassandra Schoen, Tyler Madison, Lauryn Evans, and McKenna Wiscombe. 

The Lady Hornets committed 15 fouls compared to the Blazers’ eight. Despite the fouls and the missed shots, the Lady Hornets definitely have something to build upon. They have been very effective this season on the defensive end. They have had a little more trouble on offense, but the future of this team looks bright. 

Smith expressed his pleasure with his team saying, “I am really proud of our team and the 90-plus minute performance they put in!”

The Hornets will look to continue building on their play as they face the Faulkner University Eagles in an afternoon matchup on Sept. 12.