SAINT LEO, Fla. – It didn’t come easy for the Saint Leo women’s soccer team, but persistence paid off as senior Sara Macko’s successful penalty kick in the 87th minute broke a 2-2 tie and helped the Lions defeat Robert Morris University 3-2 at a wet and humid University Field on Thursday evening.
In looking to tally their first win of 2009, the Lions (1-0-1) had no trouble showing offensive brilliance early as junior Malloree Enoch put SLU on the board in the fifth minute. Enoch set up to take a direct free kick about 25 yards out and zipped the ball toward goal. The ball seemed to have eyes as it slipped between the legs of two Saint Leo forwards and a Robert Morris defense, then past the keeper and into the goal. Despite all the action, the game’s first tally would come unassisted.
Sophomore Pia Soesemann would put the Lions up 2-0 in the 19th minute as she picked up a great pass from sophomore Francesca Williams in stride. Soesemann, who began to outpace her defender as they entered the 18-yard box, unloaded a blast that deflected off of the right post and into the goal.
After the scoring display in the first 20 minutes, both teams would settle into a stalemate for the remainder of the first half with just six total shots between the two squads.
The beginning of the second half was Robert Morris’ turn to show offensive power as the Eagles scored six minutes after the break.
Their first goal came in the 51st minute from the right foot of substitute Karina Munoz as she flicked-on a free kick from Anne Meshes. Munoz’s shot snuck past new goalie Kelcee Mai, who replaced starter Cristina Coca at the intermission.
The visiting Eagles (3-3-1) would knot the score less than two minutes later on another free kick from 20 yards out. This time Meshes would not need any help as she blasted a shot toward the upper part of the goal where Mai could not extend to deflect it away.
With the score knotted at two, the Lions would have a number of opportunities in the next 30 minutes to regain the lead. The first came from a header by lengthy junior Dari Alcantara that sailed over the bar and another chance was from a one-on-one opportunity between newcomer Jasmine Johnson and Eagle goalkeeper Jeannette Williams was won by Williams as her diving save kept the game tied.
Even the penalty in the waning moments of the game was not without some high drama.
After getting pulled down in the edge of the box, Macko slowly set up to take the penalty shot, which she easily converted into the lower-right corner of the net, but the referee would disallow the first tally because a Saint Leo player entered the box before the ball was struck. The second opportunity saw Macko slot the ball into the exact same spot to give the Lions the lead.
Mai would pick up her first win of 2009 as she was the goalie of record when the Lions went ahead and Coca also registered 45 minutes for the Lions, making two saves. As a team, the Lions outshot the visitors from Chicago, Ill. 15-to-6 and also posted the edge in corners 4-to-3.
The Lions now turn their attention to their first Sunshine State Conference action of the season as they travel to Eckerd College on Saturday evening. SLU will kick things off with the Tritons at 7:00 p.m. on the artificial turf North Soccer Field in the South St. Petersburg campus.