JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Soccer, like any sport, allows for a variety of styles to achieve the ultimate goal of the game: victory. Kennesaw State didn’t nab any points for artistry on Friday night at Southern Oak Stadium, but the Owls did get the result they needed with a 2-1 win in double overtime over the Jacksonville University women’s soccer team. With the win, Kennesaw State (8-7-1, 5-2-1 Atlantic Sun) has overtaken the Dolphins (10-7-0, 5-3-0) for second place in the conference and can clinch a first-round bye if it can manage another three points on Sunday against North Florida.
For the first 45 minutes of the match, Jacksonville dominated every phase of the game. Keeping Kennesaw State largely off the ball, the Dolphins put together one scoring chance after another. The breakthrough seemed inevitable and was finally registered in the 19th minute as Kaitlyn Bassett corralled a through ball from Joy Grove and chipped over KSU goalkeeper Olivia Sturdevant from 20 yards out for a 1-0 lead. Ally Lee also assisted on the play.
Less than four minutes later, the Dolphins were back at it. A foul deep in the KSU final third allowed Lee to swing in a free kick that connected with Sarah Moghadas. In the first sign of bad luck for JU on the night, her well-struck header rang the crossbar and stayed out. In the 33rd minute, Grove continued to pose a threat to the Owls and drove a shot off the right post.
Though KSU was able to force four offside calls in rapid succession from the Dolphins early in the second half, nothing much seemed to have changed for the first 20 minutes as Sarah Sierra continued to have a quiet night in front of goal. That all came to an end in the 67th minute as Brittney Reed was able to work free down the right and cross into the box. As Sierra leapt to make a play, Maggie Gaughan rammed into her as the ball hit her gloves. It then trickled free and rolled past the goal line to square the match at 1-1 midway through the half.
Gifted the tying goal on a play that could have easily been whistled dead, Kennesaw State put the clamps on Jacksonville’s attack and didn’t allow a shot the rest of the stanza. The best opportunity for the Dolphins to find the winner came in the final 30 seconds when the Owls committed a foul just outside their penalty area. Julia Burton had to quickly step over the ball and swing a cross in before time ran out, but KSU made the clearance to end regulation.
After a quiet first overtime, the teams proceeded to the final 10 minutes of the match. The opening chance in the second overtime came to Moghadas in the 102nd minute, but she couldn’t find the proper touch to a cross that came in from the left flank.
Just over a minute later, Kennesaw State managed to find a breakaway opportunity as Katrina Frost played the ball ahead to Shannon Driscoll. Driscoll ran onto the ball, then stopped and reversed direction to open just an inch of space. Her shot curled from the edge of the penalty area to the top right corner of the net, beating Sierra and giving the Owls the victory.
“I was proud of the effort from the girls tonight,” said Head Coach Brian Copham. “It was definitely a tale of two halves. We have to do a better job of adjusting during the run of play to not let teams get as much momentum as Kennesaw State had in the second half. I was proud of the fight we showed and it was a match that could have gone either way. We have to rebound and get ready to go on Sunday.”
With the result of Friday night’s match, Florida Gulf Coast has clinched the regular season title and will host the Atlantic Sun Tournament semifinals and final on Nov. 8 and 10. Jacksonville can still land a top-two seed and a bye to the semifinals with a win on Sunday against Mercer and either a Kennesaw State loss or tie at North Florida. The conference tournament gets underway next week with a pair of first-round matchups. The third and fourth-seeded teams will play host to the fifth and sixth-seeded teams at times and locations to be determined.