Header pic: Alexis Sheely – Credit: Emily Miller (Florida Tech Athletics)
The Florida Tech women’s soccer season came to an end on the turf at the West Florida Soccer complex on Sunday. They played to a 1-1 draw against Lenoir-Rhyne only to see the Bears advance to the NCAA Semifinals with a 4-3 victory on penalty kicks.
This was the fourth straight tournament game that the Panthers took to penalty kicks. It was the first that they ended up being on the wrong side of.
The fifth-seeded Panthers had the advantage in play for much of regulation and scored the first goal, but Lenoir-Rhyne, seeded seventh got the equalizer and these teams played two scoreless overtime periods.
This tie was the ninth for the Panthers (10-3-9), who tied an NCAA record for the most draws in a season across all three divisions.
Florida Tech’s leading scorer Marem Ndiongue got the first shot on goal for the Panthers with 5:13 gone in the first half, but Lenoir-Rhyne goalie Grayson Cameron was there to make the save. Kate Frazier was denied a couple of minutes later, and Ndiongue got another chance from a tough angle 8:29 in, banging it off the upper corner of the crossbar.
After 45 minutes the Panthers had a 6-1 advantage in shots, with three shots on goal. Cameron was able to save all three. Florida Tech also had three corner kicks in the period.
Ndiongue had another chance 3:54 into the second but Cameron came up with the save.
The next shot Cameron faced, she wouldn’t save. A ball that bounced off a Lenoir-Rhyne defender landed on the foot of Hanna Mansson. She found Alexis Sheely, who booted it on goal. The ball bounced off the post but looked to have some backspin and slowly went across the goal line. It was like watching a slow-motion replay, but it gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute.
In the 64th minute, the Bears came up with a free kick that went into a lot of traffic. Neve Duston found Kara Gavaghan, who sent the ball high and over Panthers goalie Maria Sanchez Recuero, who was on the opposite side and couldn’t get back. With that, it was a 1-1 game and would remain that way for the rest of the period.
Florida Tech had 11 shots at the end of regulation, to the Bears four. Five of the Panthers’ shots were on goal, with the Bears getting two. Cameron had four saves, while Sanchez Recuero had one.
The first overtime saw the Panthers take two shots, one each for Vilma Ferdfelt and Masson, but neither were any threat to the net. Sanchez Recuero did have to make a save in the second overtime, with 1:04 left.
With nothing decided in 110 minutes, the Panthers and Bears went to penalty kicks. Mayara Queiroz Reis came up empty for the Panthers, while Leonie Proessl scored to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Veronica Thordardottir and Madi Kyle both scored in round two, so the Bears were up 2-1. In round three JoJo Michaels scored for the Panthers and Stephanie Figueiredo missed wide, tying things up 2-2.
Ferdfelt started round four for the Panthers and her shot went off the crossbar and in. Sanchez Recuero would make a save on Kate Casey, giving the Panthers a 3-2 lead heading into round five.
Cameron made a stop on Frazier and Scarlett Kelly made good on her shot for the Bears, tying things up 3-3. Emily Swope put a good shot on to start round six, but Cameron was up to the task. That put the match on the foot of Evan O’Leary, who beat Sanchez Recuero with a high ball that was too tall to be stopped, but good enough for the game-winning goal.
For more info: Lenoir-Rhyne @ Florida Tech Box Score (NCAA National Quarterfinals)
This was a tough way for the Panthers season to end, but it was a memorable one for sure. Congratulations to head coach Ryan Moon and all the players on a great season. We look forward to what this team does for an encore in 2022.