For a second year in a row, Lexie Key has earned first-team All-American honors as a standout goalkeeper for Southwestern Adventist University women's soccer.
The National Christian College Athletic Association announced its women's soccer Division II All-American teams recently, and Key garnered first-team All-American honors for the second straight season.
“It’s so special to see that other people see my talents and all my hard work and effort I put into the game I love and voted for me,” Key said, “as well as one of my teammates, Chelsey Monroy. It is her second year in a row as well for this award.”
Key has been a pivotal contributor to Southwestern Adventist University soccer — and volleyball — since she joined the program two years ago.
Key originally signed with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in February of 2021 before opting to stay closer to home.
“I did sign with NEO in high school, but I never ended up going,” Key said. “About a month before move-in, I changed my mind; I wanted to stay closer to home. At the time, my club coach, Steve Rodriguez, was also the men’s and women’s head coach here at SWAU. I talked to him for a while on the phone and decided that SWAU would be my new home. It's 15 minutes from my house, and I can still live here at home during the school year.”
Key was an all-district and All-Johnson County performer for the Lady Jackets in soccer and volleyball. And continuing her education and athletic career at SWAU also allowed her to keep playing volleyball as well.
During her junior year of high school, Key recorded 10 shutouts and posted a 0.67 goals against average en route to winning the 2020 All-Johnson County goalkeeper of the year award. As a senior, Key posted 12 shutouts and allowed only 12 goals in her 20 starts, earning 2021 All-Johnson County goalkeeper of the year honors.
And she's continued to be a dominant keeper for SWAU, evidenced by her back-to-back All-American accolades.
“Lexie's deserved this honor,” SWAU Coach Tristen Olvera said. “She would make crucial saves in big games. Her being focused for 90 minutes ultimately is what makes her stand out from all the players in our division. She never loses focus no matter how big the occasion is. You know if Lexie's back there, we have a shot at winning.
“What makes Lex stand out is her dedication to get better. She's always asking questions and is not afraid to get extra work in.”
Key said she's thoroughly enjoyed playing volleyball and soccer for SWAU the past two years.
“The last two seasons have been so much fun,” she said. “My freshman year with Coach Rodriguez, we had a lot of fun from going to a tournament in Chicago and getting to explore outside of the game to dancing on the field during game-time warmup.
“And this season we got a new head coach as well as assistant. Our head coach is Tristen Olvera and assistant coach is Blaine Moore. They have both taught us a lot this season. We only had six returners with all new players this year, and we all had to learn how to play together. We figured it out and became regional champs. Then we went all the way to Kissimmee, Florida, for the national tournament and ended up getting fourth place.”
Even as an All-American, Key hasn't settled on her merits. And she shares all of her success with others.
“All of my high school and club coaches have taught me the foundation of the game and how to apply it in game situations,” she said. “My current coaches, Tristen and Blaine, have helped me as my team expands our knowledge of the game and how to see the game on a deeper level to how we play more simple and not so complicated.
“A huge shoutout to my center back, Taina Miller-Rivera. She held the back down, and I couldn’t do everything I do without her, and another shoutout to my other two girls, Chelsey Monroy, my striker, and Rosana Estrada, my center mid. These girls are true teammates and amazing friends and are as such a huge part in all our successes as a team as I am.”
Being a collegiate student-athlete brings about all kind of challenges for many, but Key has managed to balance being a two-sport collegiate student-athlete.
“It's amazing how Lexie has juggled both sports, but it doesn't surprise me,” Olvera said. “She's a competitor, that's who Lexie is. She never missed one of my practices or games even if she had a volleyball game the same day.”
Key still has two more years of eligibility remaining, and she hopes to lead SWAU to even more success the next two seasons.
“I still plan on playing soccer and volleyball at SWAU. For soccer I plan on going back to nationals next year and winning the national title,” she said.
Key has enjoyed her playing experiences so much that she even changed her major.
“School is going good,” she said. “I started off as a pre-veterinarian major. Then I decided to switch to kinesiology to study physical education to become a coach. I want to coach soccer hopefully at a high school level one day.”
This article was adapted with permission from the December 10, 2022, edition of the Cleburne Times-Review.