TAMPA, Fla. – Behind a pair of goals from Kaitlyn Bassett, the Jacksonville University women’s soccer team eked out a 3-2 win over Niagara on Friday afternoon from USF’s Corbett Soccer Stadium. In a game that was dominated by the Dolphins, it took a 72nd minute goal from Bassett to escape with the victory over the opportunistic Purple Eagles.
With the first 15 minutes of the match contested primarily on one side of the pitch, it wasn’t a surprise when Bassett finally broke through early in the 16th minute. A shot by the junior by saved by Niagara goalkeeper Claire Feiertag, but rebounded right back to Bassett, who found the back of the net on her second attempt.
In a shocking twist, the Purple Eagles tied the match just over two minutes later. Breanna Cativpovic accepted a pass from Haillie Price and finished past JU keeper Sarah Sierra to knot the score at 1-1 after 18 minutes.
The game wouldn’t remain tied for very long however, as Marie Weckhurst found Sarah Moghadas in the box, and the sophomore midfielder clinically tucked it away for a 2-1 edge as the first half reached its midway point.
After 36 minutes of play, a Jacksonville foul gave Niagara a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. For the second time, Cativpovic delivered, knotting the match once again at 2-2. Despite outshooting the Purple Eagles 13-3 in the opening 45 minutes, Jacksonville had little to show for it.
The momentum swung firmly to the side of the Dolphins within the first two minutes of the second half. A harsh challenge from Feiertag on Bassett earned the Niagara keeper a red card and put the Purple Eagles a man down for the remainder of the match. Though Julia Burton’s penalty kick was saved on the restart, the ejection put an end to any kind of Niagara attacking threat, as the Purple Eagles were content to park the bus in front of their own net and hoped for a draw.
The strategy worked for nearly a half-hour until Adriana Rodrigues swung in a cross in the 72nd minute that found the head of Bassett. Her second goal of the afternoon proved to be the difference, finally breaking the stalemate. Jacksonville’s defense took care of the rest, not allowing Niagara a single shot in the second half, even once the Purple Eagles needed to push for an equalizer.
Head Coach Brian Copham was quick to put the day in its proper perspective. “While it wasn’t our best effort today, I’m glad we found a way to win,” he said. “There are a lot of individuals who know they didn’t play up to the level they expect of themselves, and it will be good to see them bring an increased focus, commitment and effort to training next week.”
Now at 2-1-0 on the season, the Dolphins remain on the road next weekend, facing the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday night at 7 p.m., before ending the weekend with a 2 p.m. match on Sunday against the Georgia State Panthers.