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Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications

Office:  321-433-5700, 321-759-4540 (C)

BCC Women Play Saturday for Berth in National Soccer Tournament

November 1, 2012 - When Brevard Community College head women's soccer coach Jeff Carr convened his first practice as dawn was breaking on the steamy summer morning of Aug. 1 he believed his team had what it takes.

Now, three months later, BCC is playing for the right to advance to the Nov. 12-17 NJCAA Division I national championship tournament at Melbourne Central Catholic and Carr knows his team has what it takes.

But the stoutest test of what BCC has and how much longer its season will continue awaits on Saturday at nationally 18th-ranked Pear River Community College of Poplarville, MS, which is 12-2. Game time is 2 p.m. Eastern time at Pearl River. The challenge is simple: Win and move on. Lose and go home.

BCC is 12-1 and ranked No. 1 in the country in the NJCAA Division I poll. But more importantly Carr's resilient team has overcome the loss of two starters — both to season-ending knee injuries; the loss of two key reserves — one to a knee injury and another to illness; the multi-game absence of its key center-back on defense due to a concussion; a one-game absence of another key reserve to a concussion and the three-game absence of a key defender/midfielder due to a red-card suspension.

And just when the season appeared the darkest following a contentious 2-0 victory in the rain over Broward College that resulted in the red card and two players suffering concussions that left it severely depleted defensively BCC scored its biggest victory. Playing just three days later it defeated host Polk State College 1-0 to secure a berth in Saturday's District H title game, the final step to the national championship tournament.

That Carr's team bounced back so quickly and under such daunting circumstances speaks volumes about his players' ability to both put the ball in the net and prevent their opponents from doing so, after all BCC holds a 34-8 scoring advantage. But it also speaks to a vital intangible: the one heart that beats collectively in 23 chests.

Sophomore co-captain Lois Edvardsson, of Gothenburg, Sweden, BCC's career leading scorer who shares the season lead of 10 goals with fellow sophomore Courtney Hueston, can speak to the Titans togetherness.

"I'm not really surprised we did so well because I've always thought we have a great capability in all of our players to play at a very high level," she said.

"There always are players when other players get hurt they get the chance to step up. Even though it was very sad that we lost a lot of players it was to great see how the players who were left stepped up and really worked hard to get into the position to play.

"It's been great," she added. "We're becoming better and better at playing together and we are getting closer. We have to work for each other and fight real hard. We have to do this together."

For her part Edvardsson stepped up — in essence stepped back from striker to center back for three games — and helped hold things together in a time of need.

"I hope they see how much this team means to me," Evardsson said of her shifting roles. "I'm sure if anyone else would have stepped down they would have done a great job. I don't want to glorify (my effort) in any way. I'm trying to be a good leader. This is a huge deal. It is so important."

Among the players who rose to the challenge posed by the injuries and absences were freshmen Kelsey Smith, of Port St. Lucie, FL, at holding midfielder and Melissa Williams, of Lake Worth, FL, on the back line, Carr said.

"I'm glad that I'm getting the opportunity to play," Smith said. "I like how we are playing now and how the team is working together. I'm glad we're playing the way we are.

"Now that I am starting and getting more playing time my confidence has increased."

As for the team as a whole and how it has bonded: "I'm proud of everyone," Smith said.

Much like Smith, Williams' season came together as the games wore on and the needs increased.

"At the beginning of the season I don't feel like I was playing like the player that I am, maybe because I was nervous," Williams said. "It's really great now that I can be a starter and do what it takes."