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Eastern Florida Wins; Its Fate Now Rests With Southern Maryland and Navarro

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EFSC win
Eastern Florida's number 3 Amanda Lodge celebrates with her team after scoring what would be the match's winning goal in the second half.

Nov. 19, 2013 - Eastern Florida State College's women's soccer team did what it needed to do on Tuesday, beating College of Southern Maryland 1-0. Now Eastern Florida's fate lies in Southern Maryland's hands.

Eastern Florida's victory on the second day of the NJCAA Women's Division I Soccer National Championship Tournament on its home field kept it alive for at least one more day following its 2-1 loss to third-ranked to Navarro College on Monday.

Sixth-ranked Southern Maryland meets Navarro at 7 p.m. Wednesday with a berth in Friday's semifinals at stake for all three teams. Only one can advance.

Tenth-ranked Eastern Florida, Southern Maryland and Navarro could all end up at 1-1 in pool play with a complicated series of tiebreakers kicking in.

That Eastern Florida still has a chance was credit to a gutsy performance by a physically and mentally worn down team that dug deep one more time.

If Navarro beats Southern Maryland and goes through to the semifinals at least Eastern Florida's 16 sophomores went out winners in their final game.

The teams were tied at 0-0 after a first half bereft of scoring chances. Southern Maryland had the better of the play but didn't seriously threaten Eastern Florida sophomore goalkeeper Katelyn Kern.

Eastern Florida had one chance at Hawks sophomore goalkeeper Jasmine Biggs but missed an open left side of the net. Otherwise Southern Maryland's strapping back line and strong midfield kept the Titans at bay.

The Titans finally broke through when Southern Maryland's defense misplayed a pass that went directly to sophomore forward Amanda Lodge. The sophomore forward beat Biggs cleanly into the top of the net from about 30 yards out with 38 minutes, 36 seconds to play.

"I knew I had to shoot, I just saw it going in, I'm pretty sure I blacked out, I don't even know what happened," Lodge said. "It was really exciting.

"It was a deflection or something and Jamie (Perriello) was going for it and I told her 'just leave it, leave it.' I saw the goal and I touched it (the ball) and shot it,"

Samantha Solis
Eastern Florida State College's Samantha Solis goes high for the ball near the goal during the hard fought match that kept the Titans tournament hopes alive.

The goal energized the Titans and a large, loud and enthusiastic home field crowd as the action shifted into the Southern Maryland end.

But into the 26-minute mark Southern Maryland began pressing things but was unsuccessful and the Titans regained control.

"Tonight was just a very big game," said a spent Eastern Florida sophomore defender and co-captain Jess Fassnidge who spoke to reporters while lying on the ground.

"If we had lost that would have meant we were done. We knew we had to come here work hard and do our job and hopefully the rest will hopefully fall into place.

"Every single player out there put their absolute heart in. We asked every player before the game, all we ask for is 90 minutes of hard work, put your bodies on the line, put your hearts into the game and we'll get the result and every person did that, injured or not."

For Eastern Florida head coach Jeff Carr, who took his 2012 team to the national final and saw this team improve to 12-3-1, the night was about effort, especially after Monday's tough defeat.

"They battled tonight," he said. "That's tough after playing two hard games back to back without a rest. We started cramping at the end. But what can you say, we left it on the field tonight."

The shutout was the ninth for Eastern Florida this season, one hallmarked by a stout backline of Fassnidge, 2012 All-America Heather Williams, Jade Rhodes and Samantha Solis.

"Our defense . . . we've had so many clean sheets and it's our defense," Carr said. "It's unbelievable. Our defense is probably one of the best in the country."

Would Carr consider the season a success even though his team might not progress out of the tournament's first round?

"Yes," he said. "We got to the national tournament. Definitely a successful season. We have unfinished business and if somehow we can get through I feel special about what they've done, especially tonight."