SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo University sophomores Arielle Kabangu and Katie Waddell each had a hand in three of the Lions' five goals to lead Saint Leo women's soccer to a 5-0 season opening win over Spring Hill College, Thursday night at University Field.
The victory marked the fifth straight year with a season opening win for Saint Leo women's soccer, even with the added drama of an hour-and-a-half delay for lightning that forced the cancellation of the preceding men's soccer game scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
"It's great to open the season at home with a clean slate, in a regional game," said Saint Leo head women's soccer coach Ged O'Connor. "It was tough with the weather to get stuff going, but a young group of girls worked well together tonight."
Kabangu netted what would prove to be the game winner in the third minute, finishing a pass from Waddell. Freshman Victoria Covas doubled up the Saint Leo lead in the 32nd minute, finding a loose ball in a crowd inside the Spring Hill six-yard box and getting the shot past Badger keeper Maggie Dalessio.
Waddell put the Lions up 3-0 barely six minutes later, brilliantly finishing a shot into the far lower corner past a diving Dalessio off a feed from freshman Lindsay Perkins.
Saint Leo extended its lead to 4-0 with just 37 seconds remaining in the opening half with Perkins' first collegiate goal off a pass from Kabangu.
Waddell picked up her second goal of the night in the 58th minute, with Kabangu earning her second assist of the contest.
Saint Leo keeper Abby Evans recorded just one save over her 90 minutes in the Lion goal, while Dalessio charted seven saves for the Badgers in the first half alone. She was lifted in favor of Abby Massengale in the second half, who logged five stops.
Saint Leo finished the night with a commanding 25-2 advantage in shots, and six corner kicks to Spring Hill's none. The Lions were whistled offsides three times, while the Badgers were caught offsides twice.
Saint Leo returns to the pitch on Saturday, Sept. 6, when it faces Carson-Newman in a 5:00 p.m. start, in the first game of a doubleheader with the Lion men's soccer team.
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