Release courtesy of Mark DeCotis, Eastern Florida State College
MELBOURNE, Fla. (November 19, 2014) - In a back-and-forth, contentious, physical and draining game Eastern Florida State College tied Darton College 2-2 on Wednesday to advance to the NJCAA Women’s Division I Soccer National Championship semifinals.
Third seed EFSC joins top-seed Iowa Western Community College, second-seed Monroe College and fifth seed Navarro College in the final four.
Friday’s semifinals match Iowa Western and Navarro College at 5 p.m. and EFSC and Monroe at 8 p.m., both games on EFSC’s Melbourne Campus.
EFSC improved to 13-1-1 and advanced by virtue of the three points it received for defeating St. Charles Community College 2-0 on Monday and the point for the Darton tie.
Sixth-seeded Darton finished at 16-2-2 and completed pool play with two points thanks to Wednesday’s tie and its 2-2 tie with St. Charles on Tuesday.
“We came back, (freshman) Kayla (Washabaugh) stepped in for (injured) Helen (Ramsey) and got a big goal for us,” EFSC head coach Jeff Carr said. “She was putting pressure on their backs, battling and being aggressive.”
Darton led at halftime 2-1.
“It’s a game of emotions and ebb and flow and we’re just thankful we actually came back and got the tie and are going to play Monroe on Friday night,” Carr said.
“I never said we only needed a tie but I guess they had that figured out. But it is exciting being back in the final four.”
EFSC finished as national runner-up in 2012 and was eliminated in the tournament’s first round in 2013.
The Titans are still alive thanks to Washabaugh who took a feed from classmate and midfielder Abbie Camargo in the 63rd minute to forge the tie.
“Honestly I knew we were coming down in time and we needed to make something happen,” Washabaugh said. “We worked so hard this season . . . I knew we had to pull away something. That was just my opportunity right in front of the goal and I had to put it in.”
The assist added to Camargo’s school-record total, which sits at 17.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Washabaugh said. “All our work has paid off. We just need to keep it up. Honestly, this was one of the biggest goals I’ve ever had. It was just one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long, long time. I knew our team needed that.”
EFSC started the game strongly. Darton freshman goalkeeper Krista Moisio made a diving save on a close-in EFSC header off free kick in the 15th minute after EFSC had missed on several other opportunities.
The Titans continued to press as the half wore on but Darton tilted the field in its favor at times, challenging the EFSC defense.
EFSC finally broke through as Camargo beat Moisio on a breakaway in the 37th minute.
EFSC kept the pressure on and only more Moisio saves kept it close.
But a Titan slip-up allowed Darton to even things at 1-1. A long-range shot by freshman Maggie VanHusan that eluded leaping EFSC keeper freshman Asmara Holmes in the 41st minute.
Moisio then made two diving saves and her defense bailed her out on another EFSC chance.
Darton counterattacked and with 9 seconds to play in the half the Cavaliers beat Holmes again on a shot by sophomore Brianna Lemerise for the 2-1 lead at the break.
After Darton dictated the pace of play for most of the second half Washabaugh drew EFSC even in the 63rd minute, re-awakening a large, supportive crowd and her teammates.
Things went back forth with good chances for both teams including EFSC dribbling a shot past an empty net in the 78th minute.
For his part Darton head coach Ken Veilands took the tie and the elimination in stride.
“I think this was a game there were two teams that are familiar with each other, two coaches that are familiar with each other, two programs that are familiar with each other,” Veilands said.
“But they both knew if you lose you’re out. Everything was on the line. That’s the way they approached it. You couldn’t ask for more from both sides. Their game plan was on, our game plan was on. It was a fun game to coach and it was a great game to watch.”
Veilands said the fact that Darton played a tie game on Tuesday caused his players to wear down as the second half wore on.
“We were going to have a hard time climbing uphill. We knew that. I’m glad they didn’t beat us but I’m happy for them that they’re going forward.”
As for Darton’s recent close calls in the national tournament that included losing in the 2011 final and playing to two ties in 2013, Veilands was philosophical.
“We’re doing a darn good job doing what we’re doing,” he said. “I’m not going to minimize it though. I want to be that guy on the podium talking about my national championship.
“It takes a break to win a championship and sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.”
Freshman Denise Rodriguez was the EFSC goalkeeper in the second half.