WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Women’s Soccer) – Continuing their roll to start the season, the Florida Tech women’s soccer team
beat the Northwood Seahawks by a score of 2-0. The Panthers found out quickly their work was cut out for them against Northwood. The Seahawks
did not lose a game last season until the second round of the NAIA playoffs to the eventual champions. Northwood started the game strong, registering seven
shots and forcing five saves by sophomore goalkeeper Melissa Pyles. When faced with that
kind of offensive pressure early in the game, Pyles continued to motivate herself. “I was just thinking that we have to keep going. We can’t lose
because we’re better. We’re going all the way this year,” Pyles said. As Pyles continued to hold strong, the teams played a physical first half
resulting in a 0-0 tie. Panther players weren’t fazed and regained their focus according to sophomore defender Rachel Devlin. Head coach
Fidgi Haig said patience also helped the team. “We stuck to
the plan, and they were patient,” Haig said. “We had enough energy to produce a dangerous offensive attack, and we got the result.” The Seahawks
fielded an international team with many Swedish players, but they didn’t count on Florida Tech’s stable of Swedes. Freshman forward Amanda Hjalmarsson had a hand in both
goals for the Panthers while sophomore forward Therese Svensson scored once.
With 11:13 left in the second half, Hjalmarsson booted a corner kick that went off the Northwood keeper to freshman midfielder Ali Ronk’s foot. Ronk finished the play
to put the Panthers up by one. Haig said he wasn’t surprised by Hjalmarsson’s performance. “She’s a good player with good vision and
experience,” said the coach. “Slowly we’re going to get her involved in the game.” Hjalmarsson wasn’t finished yet. With just less than five minutes
to go in the game, freshman defender Kelli Ragan passed ahead to Hjalmarsson
who found Svensson with a wonderful cross. The Seahawk keeper charged Svensson but wasn’t quick enough. Svensson’s shot whizzed past the keeper’s right
side. “Therese did an excellent job. She probably ran 12 miles in that game,” Haig said. “She kept wearing the defense down slowly and was very
patient.” Svensson said the Panthers weren’t affected by the shirt-pulling and toe-stepping of Northwood. To her, they were just playing “Swedish.”
“This team has a lot of heart. Everyone runs for everyone,” Svensson said. “We don’t give up.”
A prime example can be found in the play of sophomore forward Teresa Brantley who started and logged
75 minutes of playing time despite a fever.
The Panthers will see if they can keep up the good work in an exhibition against the Space Coast Club team Sunday at 2 p.m. The team’s regular-season
home-opener is Wednesday, Sept. 19, versus Flagler.