The women’s soccer team continued its historic run with a 2-0 victory over the eighth-ranked University of West Florida Argonauts. The season, which began with a 5-1 win over Armstrong Atlantic back in late August, has led them to their latest win which brought them their first ever South Regional title. Head coach Bobby Johnston was proud of all the things his team has accomplished this year.
“This is great for our program. We’ve been close to the Elite Eight the last two years. We earned this one,” he said.
The first half went scoreless, but that’s not to say it was uneventful. It was clear the referees were allowing the players to play more physical, given the importance of the game. Both Tampa and West Florida were part of hard sliding tackles and violent tackles and violent collisions.
The physical play was not a surprise to coach Johnston.
“We expected it,” he says.
“These were the two top teams by far. You expected it would be a hard-fought game.”
Also in the first half, goalkeeper Courtney Jones of West Florida was impressive and played a huge role in keeping her team in the game.
She consistently made saves as Tampa applied constant pressure. Tampa had their opportunities to score, but weren’t able to capitalize on them.
After halftime, the game picked up right were it had left off. There was physical play and good goalkeeping on both sides.
Tampa goalkeeper Shannon Aitken made an impressive save when she lunged to her right to stop a shot from forward Audia Sullivan on a breakaway.
As the minutes ticked by, it became clear that whoever scored first would most likely be the winner. Forward Shelby Kuni made sure it was Tampa.
With 11 minutes left in the game, Kuni scored on a pass from forward Samantha Robinson. Following a West Florida turnover, Robinson controlled the ball to the far right of the goal.
She kicked the ball to the center of the goal and Kuni scored on a textbook header. The large crowd erupted in celebration.
“It was a great individual effort from Shelby,” said coach Johnston. “We couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
Minutes later, forward Jocelyn Charette added another goal to make it 2-0. Charette made an unbelievable move to get past her defender and followed that up with a spectacular kick that beautifully spun in to the corner of the goal.
The Lady Spartans will enter the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time in school history on Saturday, Nov. 11.