Moccasins' Playoff Push Put on Hold With 1-0 Loss at Saint Leo
SAINT LEO – Two years ago, Florida Southern’s postseason fortunes turned with a big late-season win at Saint Leo. The Moccasins were hoping for a similar result in 2011, but the Lions’ Dari Alcantara made sure it wouldn’t happen again. With Alcantara scoring the only goal of the match in the 32nd minute, and making a possible game-saving play on defense as time expired, the 7th-ranked Lions were able to hang on for a 1-0 win.
“Tonight was the perfect example of why this is one of the best conferences in the country,” said Florida Southern head coach Ben Strawbridge. “We’re seventh in the Sunshine State Conference, but seventh in the region, and we played extremely well against the seventh-ranked team in the country. Saint Leo did what it had to do in order to win though, and we just couldn’t finish our chances.”
Chances the Mocs had too, especially in the second half when they out-shot the Lions 7-4 and had six corner kicks. Three of those shots by Saint Leo came during a one-minute span midway through the half, leaving the other 44 minutes almost completely to Florida Southern (7-6-1, 2-4-1). The damage was done in the first half though by Alcantara, and the senior would later finish the game on defense to give the Lions (13-1-1, 5-0-1) their fifth shutout in six conference games this year.
The goal by Alcantara was created by center back Aija Bent-Trinder, who also made several defensive stops for Saint Leo. Winning the ball for the Lions at midfield, Bent-Trinder pushed it forward to Alcantara near the top left edge of the penalty box. Her shot from near that same spot carried into the far side of the net for her 11th goal of the season.
The best scoring chances for Florida Southern in the first half came on four corner kicks, all of them well-placed balls by either Alex Hoover or Kara Moore. Only one of them resulted in a shot, however, a header by Emily Griffith in the 42nd minute that was deflected by a Saint Leo defender. Griffith had another good look at the goal in the 27th minute but went high from the right side of the box.
The teams broke for halftime with Saint Leo holding a 7-3 advantage in shots, but only two of the shots by the Lions were on goal. Morgan Sammons blocked another one taken by Pia Soesemann inside the box, but the defense for both teams prevented most of the attacks from ever reaching the point of serious concern.
In the second half, the Mocs withstood two early corner kicks and a shot by Saint Leo in the 47th minute and then began to assert themselves more forcefully. Hoover forced Saint Leo goalkeeper Laura Carstens into her first save with a shot from the top of the box in the 52nd minute, and Griffith poked a shot wide on a corner kick in the 53rd. Then Adi Alvarado nearly scored the equalizer in the 67th minute on a brilliantly played ball played by Lexie Bottomley into Kirra Rainbow. The second pass in that sequence found Alvarado inside the box, but Carstens made the save at close range.
The Mocs had another close call in the 88th minute after a Lions foul deep in their own end of the field. Moore took the free kick and sent it bending around the right side of the Saint Leo wall, but Carstens was again up to the challenge and deflected it wide of the net at the last second.
Two corner kicks followed that save, but the Mocs’ final chance came in the waning seconds. Saint Leo had turned aside another Florida Southern free kick, but Sammons recovered the ball for the Mocs just outside the box and played it backwards to Bottomley. Just as she did earlier in the half, Bottomley got the ball in to Rainbow, who tried to play it on to Alvarado on the right side of the box. With an open run to the goal in front of her, Alvarado appeared to be in good position to finish the play, but Alcantara stepped in to poke the ball away from her and time expired before the Mocs could recover it.
Saint Leo ended up with an 11-10 edge in shots taken, while Florida Southern had the advantage in corner kicks, 10-6. Carstens made four saves for the Lions and Martina Tangen Billing made three for the Moccasins.
“I’m proud of how the team handled itself tonight, playing under some adversity like we were,” said Strawbridge. “We’ve been shut out three times in a row now, but there’s been no loss of the will to battle, and the attitude has been very positive. That shows we’ve got something special here.”
Florida Southern will end the regular season at home on Wednesday night, October 26, when it hosts 11th-ranked Rollins at 7:00 p.m.