Freshman Leads Panthers In Women’s Soccer Opener

By  //  August 31, 2012

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Florida Tech' s Hunt, Whittaker Also Find Net

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – Freshman Erika Forsberg showed no signs of first-season jitters in Florida Tech’s season opener against the St. Thomas Bobcats at Miami Gardens on Thursday.

Freshman forward Erika Forsberg scored twice to help Florida Tech defeat St. Thomas 4-3 in its 2012 women's soccer opening game. (Image courtesy Amanda Stratford)

The forward scored twice in the second half, including the game winner, while also setting up a penalty kick with seconds remaining in the opening session to lead the Panthers past St. Thomas by a score of 4-3.

“[Erika] did what she has been doing all preseason,” assistant coach Dustin Smith said. “She forced the defenders to make mistakes with constant pressure and quickness. She was able to get behind the defense and capitalize twice, and also created a penalty kick.”

With eight seconds remaining in the first half, and the game tied at 1-1, Forsberg got past the Bobcats’ defense on a through-pass by Christina Edwards. But a trailing defender took Forsberg down inside the box, setting up a last-second penalty kick.

Junior Carly Hunt, electing to take the kick, drove it right side, rippling the net, to give Florida Tech a 2-1 lead at the break.

The Bobcats (0-1) found a response eight minutes into the second half when Melony Poviones found the back of the net from 25 yards out to knot the game at 2-2.

Nine minutes later, Forsberg would not be stopped. Freshman Kristin Howe fed the ball past the defense, finding Forsberg all alone with the Bobcats’ keeper. Forsberg, charging up the right side, placed the ball far side to put Florida Tech (1-0) back in front, 3-2.

St. Thomas was persistent, however. Sara Mira scored less than two minutes later to tie the game for a third time at 3-3.

With 14 minutes remaining in regulation, Florida Tech received its ninth corner kick of the contest. The kick sent in by Karley O’Brien found its way back to her on the endline. O’Brien chipped the ball back into the box and as if on cue, Forsberg jumped into the air and headed the ball past the keeper to give the Panthers the lead for the third and final time at 4-3.

“It was a really good ball from Karley,” Forsberg said when describing her game-winning goal. “I was standing behind her and she fed me a ball that made it easy for me to put it in the net.”

Senior Kelly Whittaker scored the Panthers first goal of the game in the 31st minute to tie the game at 1-1. Whittaker received a through-ball from Edwards for a breakaway.

The Panthers head home for their home opener against Florida Memorial at 3 p.m. Sunday at Rick Stottler Field.