Tampa, Fla. - Danielle Celmer's right-footed rocket in the side netting sealed the victory for the University of Tampa in the semifinals of the Sunshine State Conference women's soccer tournament. The Spartans are now 14-2-1 on the season after tonight's 1-1 tie and 4-1 shootout victory.
The Spartans fell behind early as Florida Tech forward Therese Svensson found the back of the net in the third minute of the game on a nice through pass from Ericka Hildreth. The Spartans seemed to dominate in every statistical category but just could not seem to find the goal until senior Samantha Robinson was awarded a penalty kick in the 75th minute.
The Panthers resilient defense stifled the Spartans as shot after shot failed to reach its mark. The Spartans out shot the Panthers 18-2 all game but just could not capitalize.
90 minutes of regulation saw the score knotted at one and it was off to overtime, where the two sides played to a stalemate for twenty minutes. Usually that would be all for the evening, but on this night someone had to come out on top because waiting was a date in the conference finals against Saint Leo.
The shootout got off to a great start for the Spartans as Tampa's leading scorer Shelby Kuni blasted a shot by Panther goalkeeper Melissa Pyles. Tampa goalkeeper Shannon Aitken ripped the hearts out of the Panther faithful when she stopped the first shot from Rocio Hernandez.
The Panthers and Spartans then traded goals as Tampa's Courtney Evans and Florida Tech's Teresa Brantley found the net in the second round. Robinson added a third shootout goal for the Spartans as Miranda Tessier's shot found the waiting hands of Aitken. Next, it was all up to the Spartans' Celmer. The freshman calmly stepped up and drilled the game winner in the side of the net to seal the victory for the Spartans.
With the victory the Spartans will now face Saint Leo in the Sunshine State Conference tournament championship on Sunday at 1:00 pm.