JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University women’s soccer team fought valiantly on Sunday against the Miami Hurricanes, but an overtime goal from Ashley Flinn allowed the rugged ACC visitors to come away with a 3-2 result.
The game couldn’t have started off worse for Jacksonville, who fell behind within the first five minutes of the match after a goal from Flinn. A free kick in the center of the field came deep into the box and was redirected to Flinn’s head for the easy putaway. Just shy of 10 minutes later, Miami went up by two goals as Jasmine Paterson was the recipient of a Blake Stockton long ball from near the center-line that again found the soft spot in the Dolphin defense, putting the Hurricanes seemingly in command after just a quarter of an hour.
Miami’s hold on the match lasted all of 30 seconds as Jacksonville shredded the Hurricane defense on the restart and cut the lead in half when Kaitlyn Bassett took a pass from Sarah Moghadas and thumped the ball past Emily Lillard to make it 2-1. After two goals within a minute of play, the match settled into an aggressive rhythm, with hard tackles coming from both sides as the contest approached halftime.
“Kaitlyn’s goal really gave our team a lift,” said Head Coach Brian Copham. “When you go down 2-0, you can hang your head or you can fight your way back. It was important for her to score that as soon as she did, because it immediately gave us life.”
Adriana Rodrigues was subbed in for Moghadas in the 34th minute and her fresh legs immediately made an impact as she tied the score at 2-2 after less than three minutes on the pitch. Mary Sturgis provided the assist as Jacksonville forged its way back into the game.
An afternoon rain, heavy at times, altered the playing surface in the second half and resulted in a chippy back-and-forth contest with few good scoring chances for either side. JU’s best opportunity came in the 73rd minute. After an offside call against the Hurricanes, Sarah Sierra quickly played the ball out of the back to Ally Lee. Lee saw Bassett far ahead with only one Miami player marking her and booted it out of the final third towards the Hurricane goal. Bassett controlled the ball and shed the defender, moving into the 18-yard box with only backup goalkeeper Catalina Perez to beat. The JU forward found an inch of space to the right and sent the ball towards net, only to see her effort hit the post and be corralled by Perez, who hustled back after sliding out to cut down Bassett’s angle on the breakaway. With less than two minutes to go, Miranda Fyfe also sent a shot towards goal, but Perez had an easier time with her long-range attempt.
Miami peppered the Jacksonville defense with shots from Ally Andreini and Paige Lombard in the opening minutes of overtime, but neither shot required a save from Sierra. An early JU attack in the extra period resulted in a Bassett shot that slid across the face of goal but ultimately wide right. In the sixth minute of extra time, Miami earned a free kick deep down the right flank. Luckily, Sierra was up to the challenge, saving a shot from Gianna Dal Pozzo up against the post, then grabbing Paterson’s subsequent header before it sailed in.
With less than one minute remaining until a second overtime would be needed, the Hurricanes finally unlocked Jacksonville’s defense for the winning goal. Betsy Middleton flicked a cross in from the right side and Flinn used her height advantage to go over the top for a header that found its way past a leaping Sierra, allowing Miami to come away with the 3-2 victory.
“I’m incredibly proud of the effort we gave today,” said Copham. “We competed and battled against a very good Miami team. I was pleased to see the competitive side of our team, and to see them work their way out of a difficult situation. We had some bright moments and improved throughout the match. Playing a team that can match up with just about anyone in the ACC shows that we should be up for any physical challenge.”
Jacksonville (1-1-0) returns to action on Friday, traveling to USF to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles at 4 pm.