TAMPA, Fla. – It has taken 12 seasons, 213 contests, 115 victories, 47 conference wins, one Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship, and hours of hard work, dedication, and devotion; tonight, the sixth-ranked Saint Leo women's soccer team notched one for the record books as they overpowered the No. 24 University of Tampa Spartans 1-0, collecting their first ever Sunshine State Conference regular season championship title.
It's been a picture-perfect regular season campaign for the Green and Gold. After kicking off their 2011 season on September 1 and opening with 10 consecutive wins, the Lions went on to earn an overall record of 15-1-1, and remained unbeaten against conference opponents, collecting a mark of 7-0-1 while allowing only two goals in conference play all season.
It was an all-out team effort this evening at Pepin Stadium, but thanks to a lone goal from senior forward Pia Soesemann, Saint Leo was able to secure their 15th victory of their record-breaking season. The win marks a new program best, ensures a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, and means the Lions will get to host the final rounds of the tournament on their home pitch.
A misplay by Tampa allowed Saint Leo to capitalize on the golden opportunity and rocket a shot between the posts in the 20th minute. A lofty ball off the foot of a Tampa defender found its way to Sherrie Gessin, whose quick reflexes and fast feet swiftly touched the ball to Soesemann. Soesemann was able to get a solid strike on the ball while sliding to the ground, firing the shot past Emelie Karstrom with 19:28 remaining in the first half.
Defensively, the Lions were on fire, holding their opponent to 11 shots and five shots on target, all of which were easily saved by freshman keeper Laura Carstens. With the win, Carstens earns a record of 13-1-1 in her first season with the Lions.
Francesca Williams, Jasmine Johnson, Aija Bent-Trinder, Dari Alcantara, and Carstens played solid defense for a full 90 minutes, and helped the Lions earn their seventh shutout of the season. Stellar play in the midfield by Alicia Schuering, Sam Buterbaugh, Cassie Barbaresi, Katie Furtado and Andrea Lott helped a forward line combo of Ari Foreman, Lindsey Gentes, Jaime Smith, Alcantara, and Soesemann apply pressure on the Spartan defense all evening.
With the loss to the Lions on senior night, the Spartans drop to 10-5-2, and 4-3-1 in Sunshine State Conference play.
The sixth-ranked Saint Leo women's soccer team has a bye in the first round of the SSC Tournament thanks to tonight's victory. The Lions will return to action on Friday, November 4, when they take on the winner of the Lynn/Tampa matchup which will take place on Tuesday, November 1. Tournament pairings and information will be posted on the Saint Leo Athletics website shortly. For the latest news, updates, and information on the Lions' quest for post-season success, visit SaintLeoLions.com.