LAKELAND, Fla. – If there was one word to describe Wednesday night's game between Florida Southern and Saint Leo, it would have to be stunning. First there was the goal less than three minutes into the match that gave Florida Southern the lead. Then there was the goal by Saint Leo that tied it in the 89th minute when the Moccasins were in control of the outcome. That left enough time, plenty as it turned out, for Caroline Evers to deliver one more and give Florida Southern a 2-1 victory.
The Moccasins' leading goal scorer in 2012, Evers had been held without one through the first four games of 2013. That changed Wednesday night, as the sophomore forward scored the dramatic game-winner with 1:10 remaining, just 43 seconds after Ari Foreman's running header had tied the game at one. The only thing needed to make it even more dramatic was the heavy rain that fell earlier in the match.
Foreman knotted the score after taking a cross from Fabienne Schwenk deep out of the right corner, and re-directing it into the net. Before that, the Moccasins (1-3-1) had successfully run several minutes off the clock without giving the Lions (2-2) any other opportunity to tie the game.
The Mocs answered right back, however, when sophomore defender Gianna Conte came up with the ball along the right side of the field, got it inside to Evers, who beat one defender herself before sending a shot from right to left that embraced the net for the game-winner.
Before the late-game fireworks, the only goal of the night had belonged to Kara Moore, when she too notched her first goal of the season just 2:57 into the contest.
In between, the Moccasins came close to scoring a handful of other times, and the Lions had a few chances too, but goalkeepers Abby Evans of Saint Leo and Erin Moseley of Florida Southern each made impressive saves late in the second half to keep the score right where it had been almost since the beginning. Line Pedersen turned in an impressive outing for Saint Leo on defense too, and for the second game in a row, Jackie Metz made things happen as well.
Moore's goal for the Moccasins came on the first shot of the game for either team. Kirra Rainbow got her the ball inside the 6-yard box coming from the left flank, and Moore connected at the near post. Then, for more than 80 minutes, the game turned into a stalemate.
Moseley had to contend with the rain early in the game when she grabbed a couple of long balls played into the box, and the Mocs were also fortunate in the 13th minute when Arielle Kabangu missed an open net. It was one of only three first-half shots by the Lions. Kabango also had a couple of other opportunities but either couldn't get a shot off around the Moccasin defense, or had balls played in too far for her to make a play.
The Lions also forced Moseley into a save in the 28th minute on a long free kick by Victoria Roda, but she handled it without difficulty. Alyssa Abrahamsen also took the brunt of another Saint Leo attack around the same time, winning the ball for the Mocs after a long run by Foreman down the middle of the field.
The Moccasins came close to scoring in the 25th minute when Evers sent a ball just out of the reach of Kristy Legoas at the back post. Legoas was in good position again in the 38th minute when Margot Chowansky shrugged off a defender at the top of the box and got the ball inside for a shot that went wide.
In the second half, the Moccasins again had several good looks at the net, but were unable to convert until much later. Rainbow dribbled in and around four Saint Leo defenders in the 53rd minute and fired off a shot that Evans went to the ground to save. A few minutes after that, Metz was even closer to scoring, sending a header off a corner kick past Evans that was stopped by Ale Muro in the back. A follow-up attempt from close range was then saved by Evans to keep it a 1-0 game.
The Mocs nearly put the game away twice in the 83rd and 84th minutes. First it was Sydney Montgomery who set up Evers with a run to goal that the Saint Leo keeper came out to smother in a 1-on-1 battle. Then it was a corner kick headed on by Metz that gave Sarah Goolsby a shot inside of six yards that was somehow saved by Evans with one hand.
The Lions, on the wrong side of two consecutive final results will look to rebound when they travel to Palm Beach Atlantic on Sunday. Kick off is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. in south Florida.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo Women's Soccer, be sure to visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
Release courtesy of Tim Carpenter, Florida Southern Athletic Communications