Golden Girl: Griffith Nets Game-Winner in Overtime to Give Mocs 3-2 Win Over Lynn
Florida Southern Advances to SSC Semifinals to Face Florida Tech
LAKELAND – Emily Griffith hasn’t been a big goal scorer in her career at Florida Southern, but Tuesday night the sophomore midfielder scored the Moccasins’ biggest goal of the season – so far. Griffith made sure the Mocs will have more games to come as her goal early in the second overtime lifted them to a 3-2 victory over Lynn University in the first round of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament.
On a night where their top four scorers didn’t score, the Mocs still found a way to win, receiving goals from Ashlie Haas and Hanna Jansson during regulation play, before Griffith’s game-winner with 6:57 remaining in overtime number two. It was only the third goal of her career, though all of them have come this year and two of them have come against Lynn. Griffith also scored in the Mocs’ 2-0 win during the regular season.
“Lynn did a great job on our forwards all night,” said Moccasin coach Ben Strawbridge, “so we needed some other players to step up. Ashlie, Hanna and Emily all did that.”
Facing a Lynn team with only 13 players, the Moccasins (11-6-1) wore down their opponent, and appeared in total control through most of overtime. The Knights (9-9) had an early shot in the first overtime period blocked near the top of the box before most of the remaining 10-minute period was played at the other end of the field. Lynn held its own, however, allowing only a shot by Griffith that was also blocked at the top of the box.
The second overtime didn’t last long. Just 30 seconds after the kickoff, the Mocs had a header by Kerri-Ann Brown saved at close range by Lynn goalkeeper Kelsey Butler, and not long after that put together their final attack. Brown was a part of that one too, taking a pass from Princess Haley in the middle of the field and sending it to Griffith on the right side of the box. Griffith took the shot from about 12 yards out and watched it slide off the hands of Butler and into the goal.
At the game’s outset, Florida Southern had the early advantage too, with Morgan Sammons hitting the left post less than three minutes into the game. The Mocs eventually earned a corner kick in the 10th minute, and it was that play which set up the first goal of the match.
Jackie Bachteler took the kick for Florida Southern, and the well-placed ball resulted in a shot by Haley that was saved by Butler. Unable to control it, the ball bounced around inside the box with Jansson collecting it on the left side and sending it across to the far post. Brown played it there inside the six-yard box before it ended up back on the left side again where Haas finally put the ball on target for only her second goal of the season.
The Knights used a corner kick of their own to tie the game in the 33rd minute, with Brittany Evernden serving it into the box for a header by Natalie Feller.
Another corner kick early in the second half then allowed Florida Southern to re-claim the lead. Again it was Bachteler taking it, and the Knights again had trouble clearing it. This time Jansson took the shot herself, sending the loose ball into the net to give the Mocs a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.
Back came the Knights for a second time, tying the score at two with a goal in the 72nd minute. Though it didn’t come directly off a corner kick like the first three goals of the night, it did follow one the Mocs had just cleared. Lynn recovered near midfield, with Melissa Ortiz bringing it forward and Alison Ramsey slicing a shot/cross past Martina Tangen Billing from just inside the left corner of the box. Sarah Mendelsburg was there to make sure it went in, giving it the final nudge over the line from inside six yards.
The game almost didn’t need overtime as Florida Southern had two good scoring chances in the final seven minutes. The first one involved Haas and Haley, with a cross out of the right corner a step out of reach for Brown at the near post. The second one came after the Knights fouled Haley with 10 seconds remaining in the Mocs’ attacking third. That was even more dangerous as it stopped the clock before Alex Hoover’s free kick rattled around inside the box, just out of the Mocs’ reach.
“I felt like Lynn missed some opportunities in the first half and we were fortunate to get out of that with a tie,” said Strawbridge. “In the second half, we played a lot better, but you have to give credit to Chip (Dutchik) and what he’s done at Lynn this year with so few players. They have a lot to be proud of, and they really battled hard out there tonight.”
Two of those first-half opportunities may have been off the mark by less than a foot combined. A 30-yard shot by Evernden in the 20th minute sailed high by mere inches, and a curling shot by Ortiz that went over the crossbar in the 23rd minute may have been even closer.
Both teams finished with 12 shots in the match, though the Mocs out-shot the Knights 3-1 in overtime. Butler had five saves for Lynn, and Tangen Billing had two for Florida Southern.
With the win, Florida Southern advances to the SSC Tournament semifinals on Friday where it will play the #2 seed Florida Tech at 4:30 p.m. That game, as well as the SSC Championship Game will be played at the #1 seed Rollins College, which hosts Saint Leo in Friday’s second semifinal match.