Mocs Back in SSC Title Game With 2-0 Win Over Fla. Tech
WINTER PARK – Jackie Bachteler waited all season to get her first point on the stat sheet, and when it finally came, it was a play that changed the game and gave Florida Southern another chance at a conference championship. Bachteler’s corner kick in the 68th minute was right on target for a header by Alex Hoover, and the Kerri-Ann Brown added a goal in the waning moments to send Florida Southern into the SSC Championship Game with a 2-0 win over 15th-ranked Florida Tech.
Bachteler was named to the all-conference team on Thursday by excelling in a role that’s been far from glamorous. The junior midfielder has done the type of work on the defensive side of the field that rarely gets noticed, but in Friday night’s SSC semifinals, she jumped into the spotlight. Actually, it was Hoover who jumped; Bachteler just made sure the ball was where it needed to be.
The game had gone back and forth with neither team scoring until the Mocs earned a corner kick with just over 22 minutes to play. Bachteler took it, sending it out of the left corner to the far side of box where Hoover went up to drive in the header for her fourth goal of the season.
The Mocs didn’t have another shot until Brown took a cross from Morgan Sammons out of the right corner, and scored her ninth goal of the year with 2:29 remaining.
Most of the action took place in the second half, with the teams combining for only nine shots in the first; and after not making any saves in the first half, Martina Tangen Billing made three in the second, and two of them were game-savers. Her diving stop against SSC Player-of-the-Year Teresa Brantley kept the game tied after Brantley had dribbled through traffic to rip a line drive shot from the top of the box in the 58th minute.
That was nothing compared to her save with less than four minutes remaining that allowed the Mocs to keep their 1-0 lead. This time it came after a strong cross from Kelli Ragan gave Christina Edwards possession behind the Mocs defense and well inside the box. The shot from Edwards came fast, but Tangen Billing was faster, somehow stopping it at point-blank range.
Shots were few and far between in the first half, with the Panthers holding a 5-4 edge at halftime. None of their five shots were on goal, however, while two of the Mocs’ were. Both of those came in the first 15 minutes, when Panther goalkeeper Melissa Pyles stopped Brown in front of the right post and later made a diving save against Sammons on a shot directed toward the left post.
Though none of Florida Tech’s first-half shots were on target, the Panthers came just as close to scoring as the Mocs did. A header by Sara Lewis on a corner kick in the 10th minute skimmed off the crossbar, and two shots in the 35th minute had hearts pounding. The Mocs also got some tough work by Lexie Bottomley, who took the full force of a free kick by Lewis from just outside the box in the 21st minute. It barely staggered her.
Paula Lillsjo set up both those 35th-minute shot by sending a pass through the Moccasin defense into the left side of the box for Katie King. That drew Tangen Billing out of the net and King was able to get a shot past her that rolled wide right. The play wasn’t over though. Ragan swept in from the back side and had a good look at the goal but her follow-up shot from inside the six-yard box went harmlessly into the side netting.
With the win, Florida Southern advances to the championship game of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament for the second year in a row. The Moccasins will face top-seeded Rollins, a 4-1 winner over Saint Leo in Friday's other semifinal game. The winner receives an automatic bid to next week’s NCAA South Region Tournament, though its likely all four of the SSC semifinalists will receive bids regardless of the outcome.