No. 6 West Florida Eliminated in Penalty Kicks in NCAA Second Round
Argos Eliminated in Penalties in Second Straight Season
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PENSACOLA, Fla. – The No. 6 West Florida women’s soccer team had its NCAA postseason run cut short as the Argonauts were eliminated on penalty kicks 5-4 in the second round against visiting No. 17 Tampa at the UWF Soccer Complex on Sunday. West Florida came from behind to tie the score 2-2 in the second half, and the Spartans kept UWF off the board the rest of the way, leading to two overtime periods and the deciding penalty kick shootout.
West Florida finished the season with a record of 17-2-2, and the two ties came in the last two contests after penalty kicks decided the outcome. UWF won the Gulf South Conference championship on penalties last weekend against North Alabama, but the Argos saw their season come to an end in the same fashion on Sunday. The shootout was just the fourth in school history for West Florida, with the first two coming in 2006 in the NCAA first round and last year in the national semifinals.
“I am really proud of this team,” said UWF head coach Joe Bartlinski. “They showed a lot of character today. For our two seniors (Shakira Duncan and Noha Saleh) this is their last game, but having those two is like having eight seniors on another team.
“We were able to battle back because of our great leadership,” he continued. “Our captains encouraged the team the whole match and kept them fighting.”
The Spartans took an early lead in the 11th minute on a play off a corner kick. Dane Palmiotto sent the ball in from the left side, and after Gabby Jolin’s first touch hit the crossbar Marta Bertsos was there to head the ball over the goal line. Tampa took the 1-0 lead into the halftime break, and the Spartans controlled much the first half, out-shooting West Florida 6-3.
The Argonauts came out with energy to start the second half, but after a few unsuccessful chances the Spartans made it 2-0 on Brittan Spence’s rebound of a shot by Bertsos at the 50:57 mark.
UWF charged back to get back into the game, but a goal by sophomore Jodi-Ann Robinson (Richmond, British Columbia/Palmer Secondary School) in the 54th minute was called back as she was offsides.
The Argonauts kept the pressure on until the 72nd minute when UWF broke through for its first goal. Robinson received a pass from senior Shakira Duncan (Kingston, Jamaica/Darton), and even after falling to the ground after being tripped, she turned and shot while seated on the ground and beat Tampa goalkeeper Leah Cesanek. The goal was Robinson’s 20th of the season, while Duncan’s assist was her 12th.
The Duncan-Robinson connection scored again six minutes later, as Robinson took a quick throw-in up the left sideline to Duncan making a run. The senior sprinted by several defenders on the sideline, and she beat Cesanek on the near post on an amazing goal. Duncan’s goal was her 31st of the season, and Robinson picked up her 14th assist.
Cesanek made six saves in an impressive performance for Tampa, and she kept the Spartans alive through the end of regulation and into overtime. She made a point blank save on a shot by Duncan in the 85th minute, and she also leaped and saved a header by sophomore Tori Fish (Bellaire, Texas/Bellaire HS) as time was running out in the first overtime period.
In penalty kicks, the Spartans converted all five attempts, and only freshman Ann Ilin Osland (Vikeså, Norway/Bryne Videregående) missed for UWF. UT’s Brittan Spence clinched the win with the last penalty kick in the fifth round, as the Spartans celebrated their win.
“Tampa is a great team that stepped up when they needed to,” said Duncan after the game. “This was my last game, and there is nowhere else I’d have rather been the last two years.”
Duncan finished her West Florida career as the school’s all-time leader in career goals (64) and points (153). The 2010 GSC Player of the Year and GSC Tournament Most Outstanding Player is also a candidate to repeat as a first team All-American and National Player of the Year.
“Duncan is the best Division II player I have ever seen,” said Tampa head coach Gerry Lucey.
The NCAA Tournament appearance was the 10th total in school history and the ninth in a row, not counting the hurricane-shortened 2004 season. The Argonauts also won a third straight GSC title this season and the seventh in program history.
For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.