Sept. 11, 2010

Courtesy of Rollins

PENSACOLA, Fla. -  Breaking a 25-game winning streak, the 21st-ranked Rollins College women's soccer team upended the second-ranked West Florida Argonauts with a final score of 3-1 on Friday evening.  The Tars advance to an overall mark of 2-1, while the Argos drop to 2-1, snapping a 22-game winning streak on their home turf.

The victory marks the first time the Tars have come out on top in program history, and puts Rollins at an overall record of 1-9-1 against the Argos since their first matchup in September of 2000.

The Tars came out on fire, knowing full well that the game holds national and regional implications.  Dictating the pace of the game from the onset, Rollins finally hit their stride after two uncharacteristic contests to open the season last weekend in Texas.

"We learned a lot about ourselves in Texas," head coach Patrick Baker pointed out.  "The team showed marked improvements in the game tonight, and it showed."

Intense offensive pressure from the Tars helped produce a West Florida own goal, putting Rollins up on the scoreboard in the 13th minute of play.  The Tars took the opportunity to capitalize on the opening, turning-up the heat even more to take advantage of an exposed Argo squad in unfamiliar territory.

Leah Hirsch secured the game-winning tally in the 18th minute of action after a foul allowed the Tars to make the most of a free kick.  Hirsch found the back of the net from just outside the box, placing her kick into the upper left corner to put the Tars up 2-0.

Rollins was able to withhold the Argos as they started to put on the pressure in a comeback bid.  After 45 minutes of play, UWF led in shots 10-5, and corner kicks 1-0.  But, thanks to three saves from junior goalkeeper Michelle Dillingham, Rollins was able to enter into the break with a two goal lead.

"We talked during the break about not being satisfied, and not sitting back," Baker disclosed.  "Our young ladies wanted more, and produced a lot of positive results in the second period thanks to their conversation at halftime."

The second half saw plenty of action from the Argos as they tried to ignite their play in all areas of the field.  But a staunch Tars defense held UWF at bay.  Rollins' senior forward duo of Brady and Deese teamed up in the 49th minute to make an Argo win even more inevitable.  Deese directed a spot-on cross into the middle of the box to set-up Brady for a quick-touch shot between the posts, opening the Tars' lead to 3-0.

With 40 minutes still to play, the Argos appeared to have plenty of time to even-out the score, but were only able to make things happen early in the 79th minute of action as Jodi-Ann Robinson connected on a through ball to Shakira Duncan for a hard strike to catch Dillingham off guard for the Argonauts' only goal of the contest.

"Coach Milyak did a great job with the pre-game scouting report," Baker continued.  "She really explained the rivalry between these two nationally ranked programs.  West Florida has had the upper-hand for a number of years, especially when they ended our season for the past two years.  Our seniors played phenomenal tonight and helped lead our team in so many ways.  Many will look at Leah and Chelsea for scoring goals, but it was the energy of those two, along with their fellow seniors Marie Sapper, Meagan Thomas, and Deese that truly made a difference."

West Florida ended the contest leading in shots 18-6, and corner kicks 10-2, but fells short in their shots-on-goal percentage as they only found the frame on 30 percent of their shots in comparison to the Tars' 50 percent placement.

"We managed to beat a very talented team tonight in West Florida," Baker added.  "Scoring first was a big key, and then being able to add a second goal before the half did a lot for our confidence.  West Florida has some wonderful attacking personalities, and we tried to contain them as best we could.  Being able to defend well when we needed to was extremely important in tonight's contest."

West Florida goalkeeper Ali Ryan did not register a save throughout the entire showdown, while Dillingham earned five in her first game of the season after returning from a preseason injury.

"We found a way to win tonight, and that was extremely important," coach Baker concluded.  "The trip to Texas, along with this weekend away from home, will have put us on the road for seven of the last nine days.   Ending this stint on the road on a strong note will really help us dictate the pace of the remainder of the season."