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Panthers Win NCAA South Region Title, Advance to Elite 8

Header Pic: Maria Sanchez Recuero (#13) – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics

The fifth-seeded Florida Tech women’s soccer team pulled another rabbit out of their hat on Friday, winning their third straight NCAA Tournament game on penalty kicks. They beat third-seeded West Florida 3-1 on PKs after being tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. 

With the victory, Tech advanced to Sunday’s quarterfinal match against Lenoir-Rhyne. The Bears beat Flagler College on penalty kicks prior to the Florida Tech game.

Kate Frazier scored in the fourth round of the shootout, followed by a save by Panthers goalie Maria Sanchez Recuero coming up with the game-winning save against UWF’s Makayla Parkes to send Florida Tech to complete yet another upset victory.

The improbable run by the Panthers started on November 19 in the first round when they beat Mississippi College on PKs 4-1. They won their second-round tilt against the No. 1 seed Lee Flames two days later 3-2 on PKs, before Friday’s triumph.

West Florida (14-3-3) got the first chance in the 12th minute on Friday with Recuero making a save. Florida Tech had a chance developing in the 20th minute when they had numbers before the Argos Hannah Wooten committed an obvious foul to stop a breakaway. Wooten was shown a yellow card, but she had no choice.

Eventually, Florida Tech would control and Emily Swope sent a long ball down to Frazier who went down the sideline before Marem Ndiongue open in the box. She kicked it home past UWF goalie Charline Favier with just under 16 minutes left in the half, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

The Argonauts answered with under 10 minutes left after a corner was awarded to West Florida. The corner bounced around in front of the goal before Peyton Peffers gained control and sent a ball high over Sanchez Recuero and into the net, tying the match 1-1.

The Panthers (10-3-8) would get three more shots in the final three and a half minutes of the period, with Favier making two saves on Mayara Queiroz Reis and Hanna Mansson with Ndiongue’s shot missing high.

Despite the late flurry of shots, the Panthers were out shot 5-4 in the first half, with each team getting three shots on goal. West Florida held a 4-0 advantage in corner kicks.

The Argos spent a lot of time in the attacking third in the second half, but Sanchez Recuero came up with five saves, including three in the 82nd minute. All three came in a span of 23 seconds.

At the end of regulation, Florida Tech was out shot 13-5. West Florida held an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal and 8-2 on corners.

The two 10-minute overtimes were a defensive battle which should surprise no one with these two teams being known for their defense. Florida Tech was awarded a corner in the first overtime and Peffers shot with 56 seconds left in the second overtime was saved by Sanchez Recuero.

With nothing decided after 110 minutes, this match went to penalty kicks. Queiroz Reis got the first shot for the Panthers and put it home. Cowan would match it and the second round commenced with the score 1-1.

Swope would miss and UWF Kileigh Whited would come up empty, banging one off the crossbar. The third round started with a goal from Vilma Ferdfelt of the Panthers. Julia Comin sent one high over the net and it remained 2-1.

Round four saw Frazier put one in the right corner of the net to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead. That left the match on the foot of UWF’s Parkes, who sent a rocket in on Sanchez Recuero, who punched it out, giving the Panthers the NCAA South Region title and bringing the Argos season to an end on their home field.

For more info: Florida Tech @ West Florida Box Score

The NCAA quarterfinals await the Panthers. That match will be played at West Florida on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. EST.