CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Every time the Vanguard women's team takes the field, it makes an impression. On September 3rd, the Lions blanked then-No. 17 Kansas Wesleyan, 4-0, to catapult from receiving votes in the NAIA's weekly poll to a No. 16 ranking. This week, the Blue and Gold flew across the country to see how it would fare against No. 7 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) and No. 2 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in the highly competitive Lady Flames' Classic at Lee University (Tenn.).
The trip proved rewarding on Thursday as the Lions demonstrated their offensive and defensive prowess to register a 4-1 victory over the ONU Tigers.
Four different players found the back of the net for Vanguard.
Senior Rachel Rucireta (Yorba Linda, Calif.) gave her squad a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute of the first half, scoring off of a rebound from a Jordan Davidson (Tucson, Ariz.) attempt. Twelve minutes later, senior Amanda Couch (Sacramento, Calif.) used nerves of steel to put a ball past Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week, Wendy Espejel, on a penalty kick.
In the second period, Davidson netted her first of the match, courtesy of senior Lauren Skachenko (Chino Hills, Calif.), and sophomore Alexandra Okida (Mission Viejo, Calif.) created her own, chipping a ball off the inside of the post and in to give the Lions a commanding 4-0 lead.
It appeared that Vanguard would hold another opponent scoreless, but the nation's seventh-ranked team found a way to break the Lions' three-game shutout streak when Meghan Pipal snuck one past VU's sophomore goaltender, Lauren Terry (Corona, Calif.) in the 83rd minute.
Vanguard outshot the Tigers 18-9 and amassed 10 attempts on goal.
Terry came up with a pair of saves for the Pride. Espejel picked up five for Olivet in the loss.
The undefeated Lions have outscored opponents 16-1 in their 2012 campaign. They have managed 89 shots and 42 shots on goal in four matches while the VU defense has only allowed 17 attempts.
Davidson, a junior forward, is the reigning GSAC and NAIA Offensive Player of the Week. She has scored in each of the Lions' contests and boasts a team-leading six goals on the year.
Vanguard will face a formidable opponent in second-ranked Lindsey Wilson (2-1-1) on Saturday at 2:00 pm PST.