By Philip De Montmollin, St. Thomas (Fla.) Sports Information Director
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – As either teammates or opponents, Sara Mira and Melony Poviones have been connected on the soccer field in one way or the other dating all the way back to their youth soccer days in Broward Country, Fla. Today as seniors on the 11th-ranked St. Thomas (Fla.) women's soccer team, the two are one of the nation's most prolific pair of teammates as they lead their team into the Sun Conference tournament finals this Friday night.
St. Thomas (15-1-1) will face fifth-ranked Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (14-3-1) with an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships on the line on Friday at 7:30 p.m at the ERAU Soccer Complex in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Mira and Poviones began their soccer careers as opponents in the same youth league with Mira playing for West Pines and Poviones playing for Weston on fields in the western half of Broward County. They became teammates in high school, playing for perennial power Plantation American Heritage.
Upon graduation from American Heritage, the two went their separate ways with Mira signing with St. Thomas and Poviones going to crosstown rival Barry (Fla.). After one season at Barry, Poviones transferred to STU, reuniting the pair once again as teammates.
This year, the two players have led the Bobcats to their most successful season since 1999. The No. 11 national ranking is the highest since '99 as the Bobcats have defeated three ranked teams this season, including a season-opening road win over then-No. 7 Mobile (Ala.). STU's only loss came this year came in overtime at No. 2 Northwood (Fla).
As a tandem, Mira and Poviones have combined for 124 points on 63 goals, the highest statistical totals of any two teammates in NAIA women’s soccer this season.
Poviones ranks second in goals-per-game (1.69), second in points-per-game (3.94), second (tied) in total points (63), second (tied) in total goals (27), third in shots per game (6.69), fourth in game-winning goals-per-game (0.38), and fifth (tied) in total game-winning goals (6). She leads the Sun Conference in goals, shots, points, and game winning goals (6).
In the Sun Conference semifinals played last weekend, Poviones tied a school record with five goals, while also recording an assist, in a 6-2 win over Thomas (Ga.). It marked the second time this year that the senior has scored five goals in a game, tying the record of Mira (2012) and current Head Coach Michelle Smith who scored five as a player at STU in 1999.
Nationally, Mira ranks fourth in total points (61), fifth in goals-per-game (1.41), fifth in points-per-game (3.59), ranks fifth in goals-per-game (1.47), fifth (tied) in total goals (24), 10th (tied) in total assists (13) and 11th in assists per game (0.76).
For her career, Mira has 61 goals which ranks second in school history behind Smith who holds the school record with 96 goals during her playing career at St. Thomas (1996-99). In her three-year career at St. Thomas, Poviones has 45 goals, third highest all-time in the school record books.
The two players lead a team with nine seniors who are hungry to win the Sun Conference tournament and move on to the NAIA National Championships for the first time in their collegiate careers. It's been a long road for Mira and Poviones with the finish line potentially providing the two childhood rivals and high school teammates with their greatest glory yet.