Keeper gets break with Jags' offense in command

Aug. 31, 2010 at 3:31 a.m.

Sarah Saldivar got a chance to take a breath. Rather than having to save the day, she got to be a spectator.

She did everything she could to keep her head in the game.

"I just got a chance to sit back and watch them do what we've been training for," she said. "It was kind of boring actually. Every time I got a chance to get the ball or get a pass back, I took advantage of it."

Two days after stopping 13 shots and having to be on guard for 15 others for University of Houston-Victoria against UT-Brownsville, Saldivar spent much of Tuesday's exhibition game against Cedar Valley College watching the offense control the game from in front of the Jaguars net.

All told, she stopped a resounding one shot, the only one on net of two by the Suns.

"They made some good plays and have some strong players, but we were able to work on some of the things we were working on in practice," said coach Adrian Rigby.

The Jaguars kept the ball in the attacking zone for most of the game, notching goals from Janae Gonzales in the first half and Courtney Reynolds midway through the second half.

But the last minute was a flurry of action in the Jaguars zone. Cedar Valley was able to challenge in the final minutes, something Saldivar attributed to the Jaguars being overconfident.

"We got a little confident getting a goal and then another goal," she said. "The most important thing that coach is going to talk to us about is staying focused. Just because we're up doesn't mean anything."

But Saldivar said the late pressure produced some encouraging signs for the Jaguars.

"I was kind of happy toward the end, because the defense kept their shape, but they didn't let it get past the six-yard block," Saldivar said.

Saldivar's weekend performance in Brownsville has given her a leg up on being the starting goalkeeper for the Jaguars, Rigby said.

"She's starting to emerge," he said. "We kind of picked up our keepers late, they haven't even been with us for a week now. We're looking forward to training with and getting them to be a little bit stronger."

Late doesn't tell half the story. Saldivar has been with the team about a week and a half, a late transfer from Texas A&M-International.

"Last minute, things just didn't work out at A&M International. My ex-coach contacted coach Rigby and it was in, like, five days, I got registered," she said. "It was very hectic, but it was the best decision I made."

All told, the process of transferring took her about five days, from tryout to enrolled in at UHV to practicing.

"Coach Rigby called me on a Wednesday, and I said, 'why don't you look at me and see what you think,'" she said. "I came down on Thursday, and he said he would call on Friday morning with his decision. I could've stayed there.

"It was really quick. I said, 'You know what, I really liked the team, they were very welcoming. I'm going to go down to Victoria.' So, Sunday, I got here, brought all my stuff and left Laredo. I only trained about three days before we left for Brownsville."

Even as a junior, Saldivar is the elder statesman of the team, the lone junior and one of five players that isn't a freshmen on the Jaguars.

"They call me the soccer mom," she said "I'm experienced, I've got two year's experience in the NCAA, so I'm able to help them out. I've also played on the field, so there's a lot that I can help out with."

Saldivar said she has a chance to help shape and influence the young Jaguars.

"The most exciting thing is watching us grow together as a team," she said. "Not many times do you start a team off with 90 percent freshmen. It's not that common, but I'm excited and I really like it. It makes me feel good to be the oldest one leading them."


Despite having a young team, Rigby said chemistry shouldn't be a problem.

"Off the field, they've clicked right away," he said. "It seems like they are all best friends and sisters right away, which helps with the camaraderie on the field."

"But on the field, you're trying to find the right mixture of players can play in certain situations. Having 21 freshmen, it's tough. Usually you can have a core of players to turn to."


Even if the Jaguars had wanted to practice or play at their new incomplete field on campus, it would have been impossible.

Morning and early afternoon storms turned the field into a pool as runoff from the street flowed onto the field.

Until then, both teams will play at St. Joseph's O'Connor Sports Complex, including Friday's men's and women's home games against Division-III Concordia.



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