The University of Arizona Wildcats soccer team took on Florida Gulf Coast University on Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla. They fell 2-1 to Eagles in the first matchup in program history, with goals coming from Tabitha Tindell (FGCU, 18:24; 71:58) and freshman Charlotte Brascia of Arizona (49:42). The Wildcats fall to 1-1 on the season in a game that ended in controversial fashion.
The first half was ultimately controlled by FGCU. They had more possession and more attacking opportunities than the Wildcats. The UA defense held strong until Tindell of FGCU broke through and scored at the 18:24 mark. Arizona fouled FGCU, they played it quickly and Tindell just dribbled around the defense, got to the right side of the six-yard box and put it in the left side of the net. FGCU tallied nine shots in the first half, three of those were on target and senior goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman saved two of them.
Arizona only registered three shots in the first half, two of them came from the freshman substitute Charlotte Brascia. The forward made a great run from a long through ball and had a breakaway opportunity but missed wide right. Brasica also found space to fire a shot on goal at the top of the 18-yard box, forcing the keeper to dive to her right and make the save. Junior Lexe Selman also ripped from the top of the box but it did not trouble the keeper, who easily caught it. Sophomore Jaden DeGracie had a couple of threatening flip throw-ins but the Wildcats weren't able to connect with them and do any damage.
Arizona committed six fouls in the first half along with offside violation. They won one corner kick as well. For FGCU, they committed four fouls and also won one corner kick.
Brascia started the second half up top for the Wildcats and she continued her strong play from the first half. She made a strong run down the right flank, got towards the middle of the pitch and played a threatening ball across the box but it was cleared by the FGCU defender. Shortly after Brascia again returned to the right side of the pitch and was quite effective. Selman flicked on a header to Brascia from junior Alexa Montgomery's long pass. Brascia trapped it with her chest, then flicked it over her head with her foot. She turned around the defender and fired with her right foot into the left corner of the net. That goal, the first of Brascia's Wildcat career and the equalizer, came at the 49:42 mark.
"Charlotte is a good player," head coach Tony Amato said. "She's someone that we think is capable of scoring goals at the highest level. She's gone into both games this weekend and shown us that she's willing to work and can cause other teams some problems. She definitely did that today and it was great to see her get her first collegiate goal and hopefully there's many more to come."
Tindell of FGCU scored the game winner at the 71:58 mark, dribbling up the middle of the pitch for about 30 yards and then finished off the run with a goal. FGCU had five shots in the second half and three were on target.
The Wildcats were far more dangerous in the attack in the second half, firing 12 shots with seven of them being on target. They also won two corner kicks. DeGracie picked up a yellow card in the 85th minute of action for a challenge on an FGCU player.
"I thought we struggled in the first half," Amato said. "But we regrouped at halftime and played well in the second half. We did a good job of getting back in the game. For Charlotte, to pop up and get the goal at that point was deserved. We had some chances and their keeper made a couple good saves and their defender made a good sliding stop just before Charlotte's goal. I thought in the second half we were much better but over the course of 90 minutes, we didn't do enough to get the result."
The game ended in controversial fashion, unfortunately. With time running out, Selman fired a shot from about 30 yards away and scored, in what appeared to be before time ran out. However, the official ruled that the goal did not count, giving the Wildcats their first loss of the 2014 season. The rule is that the ball has to be completely over the line before time runs out, the official said it was not.
The Wildcats will play their first home match of the season Thursday at 7 p.m. MST at Mulcahy Stadium. Amato and the ladies are anxious to play in front of the Wildcat faithful.
"Well, it's definitely exciting to play at home," Amato said. "We want to use that energy in our favor on Thursday. We had a road trip here where some things were stacked against us, we needed to overcome it today but we came up a bit short in that area. So, to get home and play in front of our great Arizona fans will definitely energize us, especially coming off this trip."
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