SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo women’s soccer team could not get everything in sync on Saturday afternoon as they fell to the visiting Florida Tech Panthers 4-2 in Sunshine State Conference action from University Field. The program’s first win over the Lions pushed Florida Tech to 9-2 overall and 3-1 in the SSC while Saint Leo falls to 3-2-1 overall and just 1-2 in conference.
After a scoreless first 20 minutes of action where Florida Tech ‘keeper Melissa Pyles make a point-blank save on a Hannah Beard shot in the 13th minute, the Panthers cracked the scoring open in the 24th minute behind a goal from Kelly Whittaker. The freshman received a beautiful pass from DeeDee Newland and redirected it into the net past a diving Christina Coca.
The 38th minute saw Beard get pulled down inside the box as she had slipped past the Tech defense. The referee whistled that Saint Leo would have a penalty-kick opportunity, where senior Sara Macko would line the ball up and slot it past Pyles to level the game.
Looking at heading into the half with the score knotted, the Lions were caught off-guard as Florida Tech would get back-to-back corner-kick opportunities in the 40th-minute. On the second try, the Panthers saw the in-swinging corner sent into the 18-yard box, where it would be deflected around before Alyssa Esposito connected on a one-timer to give the visitors the lead.
The Lions could never get their offensive machine rolling in the second half as an SLU corner-kick in the 67th minute resulted in a counter-attack from Newland and the Tech offense. Paula Lillsjo would take the ball deep into the box before crossing it to Newland, who easily punched it past Coca and put the visitors from Melbourne up 3-1.
Just three minutes later, Saint Leo would see defender Dari Alcantara collect her second yellow card of the contest and resulting in the Lions playing a man-down for the remaining 20 minutes.
The disadvantage would kill any chance of an SLU comeback as Florida Tech capitalized with a goal in the 84th minute.
Although the Lions would tally another goal from Beard in the 89th minute, it was too-little, too-late for Saint Leo as the clock would expire on their second conference defeat of the season.
Saint Leo looks to rebound as they face Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.