SAINT LEO, Fla. – Despite Pia Soesemann punching home the opening goal of the game, the Saint Leo women's soccer team (15-2-1) was upset by No. 4 seed University of Tampa in Sunshine State Conference semifinal action on Friday afternoon.
Tampa scored three unanswered goals to advance to Sunday's SSC Tournament Championship after Soesemann had opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Alicia Sheuring, whose earlier effort was saved brilliantly by Tampa goalkeeper Emelie Karstrom, gathered a ball on the left and her cross was flicked home by Soesemann for her 11th goal of the campaign.
The Spartans responded in the 24th minute when a free kick from just inside the Saint Leo half was floated into the area by Shannon Walisch. A glancing header by Brittan Spence was enough to carry beyond onrushing Saint Leo 'keeper Laura Carstens and level the score at 1-1.
Just 12 minutes later, Tampa took the lead through Megan Lawrence. A first effort by Lawrence was saved by Cartsens but the rebound ricocheted kindly for the Tampa forward and she was able to pass the ball into an empty net for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
After the half-time break, Saint Leo pushed for an equalizer and space was exposed in the Lions' defense. Several counter attacks for the Spartans were denied by central defenders Aija Bent-Trinder and Jasmine Johnson.
The Lions came closest to an equalizer with under 15 minutes remaining when Dari Alcantara's effort was saved by Karstrom. The rebound was then headed narrowly over the bar by Alcantara, landing on top of the net.
The fourth-seeded Spartans sealed the victory in the 84th minute when the pace of freshman striker Amber Pennybaker proved too much for Saint Leo substitute defender Tara Belvin. Pennybaker latched onto the through ball and eventually rounded Carstens before slotting home for the final score line of 3-1.
The Lions now wait official seeding in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which will be announced on Monday. The South Region portion of the NCAA Tournament is set to begin on Friday, November 11 with game times and sites to be determined. For a list