Lady Fish Post a Strong Finish at NCCAA National Tournament

Written By: Lindsay Oren, Sports Information Assistant

Ashley Morrell (Pictured) Earned the Start for Palm Beach Atlantic in the Goal for Her Final Game Appearance Before Being Subbed Out Because of a Previous Injury. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards. Ashley Morrell (Pictured) Earned the Start for Palm Beach Atlantic in the Goal for Her Final Game Appearance Before Being Subbed Out Because of a Previous Injury. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards.

Box Score

KISSIMMEE, Fla.- After a week-long trip upstate, the #7 seed Palm Beach Atlantic University women’s soccer  team closeD out their post-season play with an impressive 3-1 victory over #8 seed Dallas Baptist University, as the Lady Fish placed 5th overall in the NCCAA National Soccer Tournament.

After a rainy day off, the Blue and White knew they would have to battle through cold and soggy weather conditions, facing a tough NCAA Division II opponent in Dallas Baptist. The young squad stepped up to the challenge, however, as they attacked the Patriots’ defensive side from the first whistle.

With the season now complete, PBA second-year head coach James Kryger had time to reflect not only on a solid 2-1 showing at the NCCAA National Tournament but also the season that was for his young team in 2009.

“Today was one of our finest performances, the girls really responded to ending this 2009 season, after almost five months of hard work and training, with a top notch performance. I am very proud of each and every one of the ladies and especially for senior Ashley Morrell who has had a great four-year PBA career,” said Kryger.

“Ashley will not be remembered for her wins and losses or great saves but for the legacy she leaves behind as a loving, big hearted, and always smiling young lady. She will be greatly missed on the field and in the locker room. I am so glad she was able to get her last start tonight and walk off the field knowing she did everything she could for the Blue and White. It has been a pleasure to coach Morrell and I know a pleasure for each one of her teammates to play alongside this talented Lake Worth product,” continued Kryger.

The afternoon game started with a heartwarming goodbye to Morrell whose unfortunate injury in the tournament’s first game sidelined her throughout the week. Morrell was credited with the start, but soon subbed out of the game after a few hugs and a much-deserved standing ovation from her Sailfish fans.        

A first half that was clearly controlled by the Sailfish, forward Angie Kuhn gave Dallas Baptist their first scare in the 15th minute as she chased down a ball poked through by Freshman Alivia McDaniel. Forced off her line early, veteran goalkeeper Emily Evans gave chase as she made a sliding kick just before Kuhn could get a foot on it.

The Fish continued to pepper crosses into the box throughout the first half thanks to 5 corner kick opportunities, resulting in 3 shots on goal. Finally, the attacking play of the PBA forwards payed off in the 28th minute.  A hard cross from McDaniel bounced off the keeper’s hands and found the feet of a wide open Kuhn, netting the loose ball and giving the Sailfish a 1-0 lead.

PBA dominated possession throughout the first 45 minutes as they stifled the offensive attack of Dallas Baptist, allowing only 1 shot which came in the 43rd minute of play.

The Patriots found new life in the second half, however, as they quickly rattled off five shots within the first 15 minutes. The pesky midfield play of sophomore Kourtney Edwards and junior Ally Bales created several scoring opportunities for Dallas Baptist and frustrated the Sailfish defensive line. But the extra effort from PBA’s own midfielder Jenny Weil elevated the young squad to a 2-0 lead after she stole the ball back from a Patriot defender just outside the box and dribbled through to the goal in the 66th minute.    

The Sailfish appeared to be cruising toward a steady victory, but Dallas Baptist would soon respond with their first goal in the 71st minute. Edwards’ shot just beyond the box deflected off the foot of PBA defender Courtney Calhoun and found a wide open Bales who blasted an untouchable shot through the far upper right corner of the goal, cutting the PBA lead 2-1.

Dallas Baptist continued to pressure the defensive third of Palm Beach Atlantic throughout the duration of the second half. Another Patriots’ scoring opportunity came in the 86th minute off of their first corner kick of the match. Once again, a dangerous cross from Bales resulted in a soaring punch out from PBA Freshman goalkeeper Kayla Webb who used every bit of her 5’5” frame to preserve the Sailfish lead. This corner proved to be the last offensive scare for DBU.

The Fish blew open the game in the final few minutes of play as Kuhn found a wide open Gabby Lopez in the far left corner of the Patriots box whose shot rattled the bottom corner of the far right post, wrapping up a 3-1 victory for PBA.

“The team overall had a fantastic national’s experience,” concluded Kryger. “ On the field the our only loss came to eventual champion in The Masters College in overtime and off the field the greater purpose of athletics and the NCCAA rose to the surface as we all realized the importance of playing for the glory of God and the many, many blessings we have all been given. I know we would have loved to have had a few better games in mid season but I always told the girls we would not learn anything for the end of the season if we just played to keep the score looking good and I think it showed this weekend with six goals and the first ever win by a south region team in the last four years at the NCCAA that we made the right choices leading to winning our last 7 out of 8 games. We also expect to have a few girls on Monday named All Tournament team and maybe a few more All American later this month. I am very proud of all the ladies and the heart and fight they showed all season but especially this weekend. We all will miss Ashley and wish her all the very best off the field as she retires from her PBA playing career,” said the Sailfish head coach.

The Lady Sailfish soccer team concludes their season with an 11-9-1 record, winning an impressive seven of their last eight games.

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