Nov. 14, 2010

Courtesy of Tampa

. - The No. 17 University of Tampa (16-5-1) womens soccer team was tested late, but came through with a 5-4 decision in penalty kicks versus the University of West Florida (17-2-2) in the NCAA South Regional semifinals. The Spartans advance on PKs after the score remained 2-2 following a pair of overtimes.

Marta Bertsos played a role in the first two goals of the game, giving the Spartans a 2-0 lead. Bertsos scored her first goal of the season in the 12th minute on a header to give UT an advantage that it would eventually carry to the half. Dana Palmiotto and Gabby Jolin assisted on the games first goal.

For the third game in a row, UTs Brittan Spence scored a goal, this time at the 50:57 mark. The goal came off a rebound on a diving save by UWF goalkeeper Ali Ryan, with Spence burying the shot in the empty net. Bertsos was credited with the assist.

West Florida, who averages over four goals per game, came back with a fury as it cut the score in half in the 71st minute and netted the equalizer just under six minutes later. Jodi-Ann Robinson scored the Argonauts first goal, followed by Shakira Duncan on the second UWF goal. Both players also assisted on each others goals.

Following a pair of scoreless overtime periods, the game entered the shootout. UWF began the period with a make, followed by a successful Luana Miessa conversion. UT goalkeeper Leah Cesanek put the Spartans in great shape with a save on West Floridas second PK, stopping Ann Ilin Osland.

Tampa then grabbed the 2-1 lead in the shootout with a goal by Gabby Jolin. West Florida would convert its final three kicks, but so would Tampa as Courtney Peffley, Cina Salemi and Brittan Spence were all successful in PK attempts. Fittingly, Spence scored the deciding penalty kick after netting a game-winning goal in UTs previous two games.

Cesanek again played beyond her freshman years while finishing with six saves. UWF edged the Spartans in shots by an 18-15 mark, and shots on goal 8-6.

Tampa advances to the NCAA South Region final on Friday, where it will face Sunshine State Conference opponent Florida Tech. The location of the game is yet to be announced as the winner will face the winner of the Southeast championship between Armstrong Atlantic State University and Lenoir-Rhyne College in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Sunday.