Former Southeast basketball player Carina Souza made her debut in goal.
By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian
Carina Souza waited a long time to finally play organized soccer.
So far, she's enjoying virtually every minute of it.
Souza, who was one of the top players on Southeast Missouri State University's women's basketball team the past two seasons, is now a member of the school's soccer squad as a goalkeeper.
Friday night, Souza saw her first game action for the soccer Otahkians as she played the opening half of a 3-1 exhibition loss to visiting Memphis in front of about 50 fans at Houck Stadium.
Souza did not allow a goal -- she had a little action but was not officially credited with a save -- as the Otahkians led 1-0 at the intermission before faltering in the second half.
"I thought it was all right for the first game," Souza said. "I'm just glad to be out here."
The 6-foot-1 Souza is from Brazil, where soccer is wildly popular. And she said she loved the sport while growing up, but basketball occupied much of her time.
"I played soccer on the streets, but not in a club or anything," she said. "I always loved soccer, but I just never had the opportunity because I always played basketball."
Souza, who transferred to Southeast from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College, is now out of basketball eligibility but has one final season to play soccer. And coach Heather Nelson welcomed her with open arms.
"She gives us depth, and she's so athletic," said Nelson earlier in the week. "With her personality, she is just a great person to have on the team."
Added the engaging Souza, who Nelson said will challenge returning keeper Amanda Wrzos for playing time, "I still have a lot to learn, but everything is going well so far. I'm just glad to be a part of the team. I think we're going to do really well."
With nine returning starters and five heralded freshmen, the Otahkians figure to field a solid squad. But they definitely had their problems Friday, particularly in the second half as Memphis totally dominated play.
The Otahkians jumped on top 16 minutes into the game as freshman Emily Newsham scored on a shot from in close. Diana Poovey was credited with an assist.
But in the second half, it was all Memphis as the Tigers held an 11-2 edge in shots and a 9-3 advantage in corner kicks. Vicki Greenwell scored early in the final period while Carla Scaniello and Caroline Barrett got late goals. Barrett also had two assists.
For the game, Memphis outshot Southeast 15-4. Wrzos, who played the entire second half, made three saves. Memphis keeper Isabel Briones was not credited with a save, which exemplified the Otahkians' lack of scoring chances.
Perhaps the best thing about Friday's match is that it won't count on Southeast's record. The Otahkians have their second and final exhibition contest Sunday as Drury University from Springfield, Mo., visits Houck Stadium for a 2 p.m. start.
Southeast opens the regular season Friday at home against Arkansas.