Backup goalkeeper emerges to lead C-SC women’s soccer team to season-opening win

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CANTON, Mo. — Although she’d earned her spot as the Culver-Stockton College women’s soccer team backup goalkeeper, Rylee Loftus never expected to play in Saturday’s season opener against Avila.

She certainly wasn’t thinking she’d start.

When junior starting goalkeeper Mackenzie Frizzell suffered an injury during the pregame warmups, C-SC coach Tyler Tomlinson went to Loftus with the sudden news she was now the starter.

“She never had started a game in her career,” Tomlinson said. “But we were like, ‘Rylee, you’re in.’ I think I saw her doing a little prayer.”

Then she teamed up with the Wildcats’ defense to stonewall the Eagles. Loftus made three saves, Maggie Tuxhorn scored in the 20th minute and Culver-Stockton earned a 1-0 victory at Poulton Stadium.

The rising temperatures — the thermometer hit the high 80s, lows 90s ahead of a heat wave that will push temperatures into triple digits by mid-week — made things a challenge, as did an Avila attack that generated five shots in the second half and played a physical brand of soccer.

The Eagles committed 14 fouls compared to six by the Wildcats. C-SC outshot Avila 8-6 overall and owned a 12-0 advantage in goal kicks. Tuxhorn’s goal came off an assist from McKenna Little 20:33 into the game.

“We survived,” Tomlinson said. “We did enough.”

In the men’s game, C-SC also picked up a 1-0 victory over Avila. Ruben Reinertsen scored on a free kick from 22 yards out in the 50th minute to give the Wildcats the edge. C-SC outshot Avila 13-9 and owned a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks. Wildcats goalkeeper David Gavriliak made two saves.

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