WINTER PARK, Fla. – The No.4- seeded Saint Leo women’s soccer team (9-5-1) had their 2009 Sunshine State Conference Tournament come to an end Friday night. The Lions, who dropped a 3-2 SSC contest to the Tars earlier in the regular season, fell to Rollins for the second time this season, this time a 4-1 decision in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament at Cahall Sandspur Stadium to the No.1-seeded Rollins Tars (14-1-2).
Saint Leo, while still fighting the injury bug, played a very solid contest, overall. Pia Soesemann scored the Lions one goal of the evening in 86th-minute on a headed pass by senior Hannah Beard. The goal by Soesemann ties her with Sara Macko for second most goals scored with eight. Also, Beard’s assist will go down as a memorable one as her pass snapped the all-time point’s record at Saint Leo with 118 points. The former record of 117, set by Casie Poyssick in 2005, stood for nearly five seasons. Dari Alcantara and Kelli Jones also registered shots for the Lions.
The beginning 25 minutes of the first half was controlled by both teams in spurts, with the defense having the last laugh. The Tars used the first 15 minutes to put pressure on the Lions’ defense, as the home team used their field advantages to their benefit. Still, Saint Leo did not quit as they began to recoil much of the same attack back at the Tars. Unfortunately for the Lions though, it was Leah Hirsh answering the first call of the game in the 30th-minute. A questionable foul in the box gave the Tars a penalty kick opportunity. On the attempt, Lions’ goalkeeper Cristina Coca made the initial stop but could stop the rebound from escaping her grasps. The rebound was gathered and shuffled into the left part of the net to give the Tars the 1-0 lead.
The Tars second goal was a game-changing moment, as a Rollins’ corner kick with less than 30 second to play sailed over the head of all the Saint Leo defenders. The ball, after a slight scramble, was sent out to the right side of the 18-yard box where it was blasted through traffic and into the net in the 45th minute. The goal allowed the Tars to enter the locker room up 2-0.
Out of the break, both teams traded possessions. Saint Leo did its best to pressure Michelle Dillingham, but she appeared up to the task as an early Saint Leo shot opportunity was scooped up. The Lions faced another unfortunate break in the 76th-minute when a cross was sent from the right side of the field into the box when defender Ali Schrader popped up into the air and headed the ball into the net to make the score 3-0.
Despite the score, Saint Leo refused to lie down. In the 86th-minute Hannah Beard headed forward her record-setting pass from just above the 18-yard box to the moving foot of Soesemann. In stride, the forward from Berlin, Germany took the pass from Beard and sent a rocket into the right corner of the net for the goal.
The effort, although valiant, was just not enough as Rollins iced the game with their fourth tally just 30 seconds later. The loss ends the Lions hopes at repeating as SSC Tournament Champions and also snapped the Green & Gold’s three-match winning streak.
Coca (6-5-1) made three saves individually for the Lions, while the team posted five total saves.
Overall, the Tars held many of the statistical categories in their favor. The Tars outshot the Lions 16-6, including 9-3 shots-on-goal. The Tars also held a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks. And, despite the aggressive play in the second half, both teams combined for only 12 fouls.
Saint Leo now awaits word on seeding for the NCAA South Region Tournament which kicks off next Thursday, November 12th. The regional announcement, as well as all post season scenarios will be released on Monday evening. Stay tuned to the new SaintLeoLions.com for further updates.