LAKELAND – Florida Southern lived to see another day in the SSC Tournament on Tuesday night by out-shooting Lynn in penalty kicks, but if the Moccasins had put together the traditional dog-pile at the end of the game, there might have been a problem. So many Mocs stood out, who would be at the bottom of it? They can figure it out as they go, but for now, the Mocs’ postseason hopes are still alive after their 1-1 tie with the Knights ended with a 4-1 decision in penalty kicks that earned them a trip to the semifinals on Friday night in Winter Park.
As for the dog-pile, or the Moc-pile if you prefer, there were plenty of options. Jackie Metz? A logical choice. Erin Moseley? Easily could have been. Kirra Rainbow? The Mocs wouldn’t have been there without her. Alyssa Abrahamsen? A strong dark-horse, not only for her work on defense, but for being one of the very few Moccasins in short sleeves on a frigid night by Florida standards. She is, after all, from New York.
In truth, it could have been any of the Moccasin defenders, whether it was Abrahamsen, Morgan Sammons, Brooke Williams or Gianna Conte. All of them made big plays when the Mocs needed them most, but Moseley made two during the tie-breaker that allowed Florida Southern to exorcise some postseason demons and advance on penalty kicks for the first time in five tries.
Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, neither team scored in overtime, though Metz came close in the final minute of the first extra period. Her header off a corner kick from Rainbow was a strong one, but it was saved by Lynn goalkeeper Kelsey Butler. Metz also had the Mocs’ only shot in the second overtime, but it came from long range and was easily caught by Butler. Turns out Metz had something far more dramatic yet to come.
With penalty kicks needed to break the tie and advance one team to the tournament semifinals, Florida Southern’s Kara Moore and Lynn’s Lauren Handley each made one to start the 5-round tie-breaker. Danielle Hancock then put the Mocs ahead, 2-1, before Moseley dove to her left to stop the Knights’ second PK taken by Meghan Dolan.
That brought Williams up for the Moccasins, and the junior defender slammed home her shot for a 3-1 lead. Lynn scoring leader Kirstie Schults was next in line for the Knights, but her result was the same as Dolan’s, as this time Moseley went to her right to push the ball away. With a chance to end it for Florida Southern, Metz delivered to put the Mocs ahead 4-1 and end the tie-breaker, though officially the result still counts as a draw.
Based on the way the game had started, penalty kicks were the last thing anyone was thinking about. Florida Southern (6-7-4) scored less than two minutes into the match when Williams played a ball into the box for Sarah Goolsby right in front of the net. While Goolsby couldn’t make a play on it, she caused enough problems for Butler and the Lynn defense that the Knights (5-8-3) couldn’t get the ball cleared. When it ended up with Rainbow near the 6-yard box, the sophomore forward put it into the net for her second goal of the season.
The Mocs nearly scored again in the ninth minute when Williams hit a shot from the left wing past Dolan, but Lynn defender Rio Hanlan stopped it before it could cross the line. Goolsby then hit a follow-up shot wide.
Florida Southern would go on to out-shoot Lynn 10-3 in the first half, but the Knights had two golden opportunities taken away by the Moccasin defense. The first came in the 19th minute when Tatiana Penagos took a pass from Summer Schults in the middle of the field and was able to dribble around Moseley, who came out to challenge her. Penagos never got the shot off though as Conte came in from the back side of the play to pressure her from behind, and Abrahamsen moved in front of the open net. Abrahamsen would then win the ball and when it went off Penagos, the Mocs ended up with a goal kick.
An equally dangerous play as far as the Mocs were concerned came in the 32nd minute. This time it was Lauren Handley playing the ball long for Jackie Hellett, not only bringing Moseley out of the net but out of the box as well. Hellett got a shot off, but Moseley was right there to stop it with her feet, one of seven saves for the sophomore goalkeeper, not counting the two she made in penalties.
The second half started with Moore ringing a free kick off the crossbar in the 47th minute, but the numbers turned in Lynn’s favor after that, with the Knights taking 13 shots to Florida Southern’s six. The Knights came close to scoring in the 62nd minute when Lina Forsman nearly threaded a ball to Hellett running into the box, but Abrahamsen, who also had two key clearances in the second overtime, got a foot on it to deflect it and prevent what could have been a 1-on-1 versus Moseley.
Lynn got the tying goal in the 78th minute on a brilliant shot by Dolan, a former goalkeeper who had started eight games at that position this year. Set up by Kirstie Schults, Dolan hit one from the top of the box that was just inside the left post for her first career goal.
In the 84th and 85th minutes, the Knights would have three more shots, with Moseley saving one, another one hitting the crossbar, and one by Penagos kept out of the goal by Sammons. The Mocs then had a chance at the end of regulation when Lynn was called for a foul just outside the box with 13 seconds to play, but they were unable to get a shot off before time expired.
Florida Southern, the #3 seed in the tournament, will now face 2nd-seeded Tampa on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Top-seeded and host Rollins will face 5th-seeded Eckerd in the second semifinal match that begins at 7:00 p.m.