The JU women’s soccer team lost 2-0 Friday night in Fort Myers, Fla. to the #1 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the semi-final round of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.
Coming into the match, the Dolphins knew that things would end differently than the last four times the Dolphins and Eagles had met. The two teams had tied in four straight contests but since this meeting was taking place in the postseason, one team had to move on. Unfortunately for JU, it would be FGCU facing Mercer in the championship game for the second consecutive season.
Like the previous four matches, this game proved to be very closely contested with neither team able to gain much of an edge. The Eagles did however receive several key calls that went in their favor and had large part in determining the outcome of the game.
The Eagles got on the board in the first half with the benefit of a penalty kick. In the 35th minute the Dolphins were called for a foul in the box and Melissa Arnold took the penalty shot and placed it into the lower left-hand corner of the goal past JU keeper Jill D’Amico putting FGCU up 1-0.
The Dolphins came out of halftime down a goal and kept pressure on the Eagle defense. JU had five corner kicks in the second half after having zero in the first.
JU however, quickly found itself in a deeper hole than just being down a goal in a must win game.
In the 66th minute, FGCU had a player heading towards D’Amico and the JU goal. Junior defender Ally Lee was running right next to her and performed a slide tackle dislodging the ball just before the edge of the box. Head referee Oscar Ortiz blew his whistle and gave Lee a very controversial red card that did not go over well with the Dolphin players and coaching staff.
Despite the one man disadvantage for most of the half, the Dolphins still did well to create scoring opportunities.
The closest the Dolphins came to tying the game up was in the 76th minute when sophomore Miranda Fyfe fired a line drive shot that went just high and ricochet off the crossbar.
The Eagles were able to add an insurance score with less than five minutes left in the game as they caught the Dolphins out of position with a counter attack. Shannen Wacker scored her 11th goal of the season to seal the 2-0 victory.
“I’m incredibly proud of our girls tonight,” said head coach Brian Copham. “The effort, heart, and fight that they put into tonight’s contest should make everyone associated with the program proud. FGCU is a good team and tough at home. It is very unfortunate that a couple of questionable decisions went a long way long way in determining the outcome of such a closely fought and competitive game. Although I am very disappointed that our seniors have to end their careers like this, I want to thank them for everything they have done for the program these last four years. Their dedication and commitment have helped to bring us to the level that we are at today.”
The Dolphins finish the season with a 9-7-3 record. With the overall winning record, the senior class leaves without ever having had a losing season.