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PUMA PRIDE AT NATIONALS
The PVCC women’s soccer team’s national championship aspirations were ended in a rain-soaked penalty shoot-out in Melbourne, Florida last week. But the disappointing end to the season did not diminish an impressive season that saw the Pumas finish with a 21-1-2 record.
Going into the NJCAA Division 1 Women’s Soccer National Championships the PVCC Pumas were the number two seed and grouped with number 11-ranked St. Louis Community College and number seven-ranked Laramie County.
In the first group match, the Pumas defeated St. Louis 4-0 on two goals scored by Nicole Nsa, and one each from Ashley Johnson and Erica Gonzales. Acclimated to heat but not humidity, the PVCC women took some time to get hold of the match in the extreme muggy weather of Florida’s Space Coast. As the team adjusted to the climate towards the end of the first half, the Pumas exploded into life and took a 3-0 lead into halftime and settled into the match in the second half for a satisfying first match result.
In the second group match versus Laramie County, the weather played an even larger role. A near-constant downpour throughout the match made the Pumas possession game nearly impossible. Early in the first half and against the run of play Laramie County would take a 1-0 lead on their first chance on goal. The rain ensured that the Pumas would have a tough time recovering and they went in down a goal at halftime. The adjustments made at the break would reap immediate results as Nicole Nsa, operating on the left side of the attack, would fire a well-placed strike into the far post for a an equalizer. Only a few minutes later, Ashley Johnson was fouled just outside the penalty area and Nsa’s well-taken free kick put the Pumas ahead 2-1.
The PVCC women would continue their assault on Laramie Country’s defense but the slick field prevented build-up play and the Pumas would never find an insurance goal. At about the 60th minute mark, Laramie County’s attackers launched a ball into the box and the slippery field caused chaos in the Pumas defensive end resulting in an errant handball. The ensuing penalty kick would be converted for the 2-2 equalizer.
For the next 25 minutes, the Pumas furious attacking onslaught would not result in a winner as Laramie County held on for a draw in regulation. As dictated by NJCAA rules, group matches ended in a tie must be settled by penalty kicks. And in the driving Florida rain, the Pumas season would end 4-2 on penalty kicks.
“Despite the disappointment of going out on penalty kicks and not reaching our goal of winning another National Championship, we are tremendously proud of the team’s accomplishments this year,” said Coach Jon Ruzan. “We did not lose a match in regulation time all year, and we were simply unlucky not be champions again. This team deserves tremendous respect for how they have responded to adversity, and they have played like champions all season long.”
To see pictures from the games in Florida, CLICK HERE