Release courtesy of Mark DeCotis, Eastern Florida State College
MELBOURNE, Fla. (November 21, 2014) - Happiness and heartbreak.
As Monroe College’s players piled on one another in celebration, tears rolled down the cheeks of Eastern Florida State College’s players in sadness.
After all Monroe had just advanced to the NJCAA Women’s Division I Soccer National Championship game and Eastern Florida had seen its dream of a second finals appearance in three seasons dashed in the most excruciating way possible: Losing on penalty kicks after regulation and two overtimes -110 minutes total – of scoreless soccer.
Although the result officially goes in the books as a draw Monroe advances to Saturday’s 7 p.m. final against defending champion Iowa Western Community College by virtue of its 4-2 victory in penalty kicks.
Monroe is now 17-1-1 while Eastern Florida finished at 13-1-2.
And the only loss for the Monroe Mustangs of New Rochelle, New York? It was to Iowa Western, 1-0 on Sept. 6 at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York.
“We’re going to prove we’re the best team in the country,” said Monroe freshman goalkeeper Tiffany Martinez. “I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
As the raucous crowd fell silent Martinez stopped three Eastern Florida penalty kicks, denying Eastern Florida freshman Mariah Lewis on consecutive attempts after it was deemed Martinez moved too early on the first shot.
Martinez then allowed goals by sophomore Jamie Perriello and freshman Rosalina Lindo before denying EFSC freshman Abbie Camargo for the 4-2 victory.
Monroe was successful on all four of its attempts against EFSC freshman keeper Riley Greer.
Sophomore Melanie Formosa put the Mustangs up 1-0 and classmate Gabrielle Braga followed with a goal for a 2-0 lead.
Perriello made it 2-1 but Monroe sophomore Christina Jean Charles converted for a 3-1 lead.
Lindo made it 3-2 but Monroe sophomore Samantha Mendez converted for a 4-2 lead.
Martinez then denied Camargo and the celebration was on.
“I couldn’t be prouder, they were unbelievable,” said Monroe head coach Jonathan Garbar. “To played the longest you can play possibly and to do it with basically 11 players against in my opinion the best team we have seen all season long, they were fantastic, their home crowd, their stadium.
“We knew it would be a battle. I challenged the team to be up for it.”
As for the final after playing a grinding game on Friday: “We’ve got the best trainer in the country, we brought our ice bath with us, our girls know how to prepare. We’re the fittest team I’ve ever seen. What ever comes Saturday were going to be ready, 100 percent. No excuses. We’ll be ready.”
Garbar credited not only his stout and dominating backline but his whole team.
“Everybody did their job,” he said. “Everybody was accountable.”
For Eastern Florida head coach Jeff Carr the outcome was painful but he praised his players.
“I just said how much I loved them, how proud I am of them,” he said. “We left it all on the field. Keep your head up.
“It’s a tough way to lose on penalty kicks. It’s a great way when you win. On the opposite end it kind of stinks.
“We didn’t play our style, a possession style. We started launching it forward and we were back on our heels because they were getting the ball and coming right back at us. That made us more nervous and made us tired having to defend the whole time.”
Eastern Florida finished as the national runner-up in 2012 and was eliminated in the national tournament’s first round in 2013. This time it finishes tied for third with Navarro College, which lost its semifinal to Iowa Western.
Both teams had chances in the scoreless first half.
Eastern Florida had a near miss off a free kick in the third minute. A minute later Martinez made a diving save.
The momentum swung back and forth with Monroe dominating down the stretch of the half. The Mustangs had a great chance when a shot hit the crossbar in the 32nd minute. Monroe played the rebound back in forcing EFSC defender freshman Haley Cook to rush across the goal mouth to clear the ball.
Following the tournament, which Monroe went on to win, Eastern Florida State's Abbie Carmargo, Bri Carmargo and Jamie Perriello were named to the all-tournament team.