NAIA No. 7 Tennessee Southern wins 5-1 in Gold Nuggets’ regular-season debut

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(Photo: Rusty Costanza)

METAIRIE, La. — NAIA No. 7 Tennessee Southern scored three second-half goals Thursday to clinch a 5-1 victory against Xavier University of Louisiana in its women’s soccer regular-season debut.

Luci Schroeder scored the Gold Nuggets’ goal, a point-blank shot after she rebounded teammate Amora Altmon’s miss in the 42nd minute. Tennessee Southern led 2-1 at halftime.

But the Firehawks (2-0) pulled away on goals by Hikaru Uchida in the 64th minute, Maclani Michael in the 70th minute and Sharaid Palmeros-Solis in the 82nd.

Uchida and Michael scored two goals apiece. Michael scored in the 30th minute, and Uchida followed in the 35th.

“The first half we were in the game,” XULA head coach Ashley Cordeiro said. “The second half we ran out of gas.”

The Firehawks are the only top-25 team on the Gold Nuggets’ schedule, and Cordeiro didn’t mind that they were the opening opponent.

“We scheduled this game for the opener on purpose,” Cordeiro said. “We wanted to play a very respected program like Tennessee Southern and see how we compare to the best in the nation.”

Tennessee Southern had advantages of 17-12 in shots and 9-1 in corner kicks. XULA goalkeeper Theresa Wiesiolek made nine saves, six in the first half.

“We’ve come a long way since we started practice,” Wiesiolek said. “But this was a rough opener.”

Tennessee Southern head coach Will Austin — both he and Cordeiro are from Scotland, and “I’ve known Ashley a long time,” he said — was impressed with XULA.

“It’s taking (XULA) some time to get to know each other,” Austin said, “but Ashley is a great coach and has put together a good team here. I’m confident she’ll have them competing at the top end of their conference this year.”

XULA’s Sept. 1 women’s/men’s home doubleheader against Tougaloo was canceled at Tougaloo’s request. Next for the Gold Nuggets will be a Sept. 6 trip to Mobile, Ala., to play NCAA Division II Spring Hill. The XULA men will make their regular-season debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Hattiesburg, Miss., against NAIA No. 9 William Carey.

NOTES: Based on the NAIA coaches preseason poll, Tennessee Southern was the Gold Nuggets’ only opponent receiving votes . . . Temperature at opening kickoff was 94 degrees under fair skies with a heat index of 107, humidity of 53 percent and an east-northeast wind at 7 mph . . . Late in first half there were sprinkles of rain — but they lasted less than two minutes . . . XULA’s next home appearance will be the Red River Conference opener against Southwest (N.M.) Sept. 14 — women at 1 p.m., men at 3 . . . All XULA home games this season are at Lafreniere Park, and there’s free admission.

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