SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo women’s soccer team (0-0-1) struck first against the #23-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University Pirates (3-1-1). But SLU was not able to maintain the lead as a second half Pirates’ goal evened the score for good in their home-opener, Thursday evening from University Field.
Senior Hannah Beard picked up where she left off last season, tallying the first goal of the 2009 campaign in the 32nd minute. Sophomore forward Jasmine Johnson picked the first official points of career delivering the assist to Beard. The Lions, however, were not able to maintain the lead as a Kristin Burton 83rd minute goal tied the match. A pair of ten-minute overtimes was not enough for either team as the game ended in a tie. It marked the first regular season tie for the Lions since a 0-0 contest against West Florida on September 6, 2006.
The first half was fairly evenly played as both teams exchanged shots and scoring opportunities. However, the Lions took advantage in a lapse of coverage by the Armstrong defenders. Johnson took control of the ball near midfield and sprinted past a pair of defenders towards the center of the field and fed a pass to Beard at the top of the 18-yard box. Beard made one move past a Pirates’ defender, slotting the ball into the right corner of the net to give the Lions the early lead.
The even play continued but the physicality of the contest began to pick up. Nine second half fouls and a Pirates 83rd-minute goal highlighted the 45 minute session. The Lions bend but don’t break defense suffered a hit in the late stages of the game as AASU tied the match with only seven minutes remaining. The squads the regulation with a flurry of scoring chances but could not end the game in regulation.
The late Pirates’ goal appeared to swing momentum over towards AASU, registering the first shot of overtime the overtime period. That all stopped though when Johnson nearly ended the game for SLU in the first overtime smashing a ball off the post; one of three shots in the extra period for the Lions. In the second overtime, the Lions couldn’t convert on a pair of corner kicks, including an opportunity with under a minute to play deep in the Pirates end.
It marks the first time in program history the Lions began their season with a tie.
The two teams tied in total shots on the evening with 14 apiece, while Saint Leo had 13 corner kicks. The squads combined for 17 fouls and three yellow cards.
Christina Cocoa (0-0-1) earned a tie in her first official appearance in net for the Green & Gold, despite making eight saves.
The Lions take to the field again next Thursday, September 17 against Robert Morris College. The game is set for 7:00 pm from University Field.