Iowa Central Beats Eastern Florida 1-0 For Women’s Soccer Title
By Mark DeCotis, Eastern Florida State // November 22, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The intensity in Christiane Lessa’s eyes said it all.
As the Iowa Central Community College players celebrated in the rain at the Titan Soccer Complex on Eastern Florida’s Melbourne Campus, Lessa recounted the journey her Tritons took from being underrated to being unbowed.
“No one would ever understand what this team went through,” she said.
“This is not a team this is a family.”
And as of Saturday night they are the 2015 NJCAA Division I Women’s Soccer champions thanks to their 1-0 victory over nationally No. 1-ranked and tournament top seed Eastern Florida.
A goal with 2 minutes and 35 seconds to play by the tournament’s offensive MVP Brazilian freshman Tamara Queiroz was all third seed Iowa Central needed to pull the upset and hand Eastern Florida its second finals defeat in four years.
Iowa Central finished at 18-1 and Eastern Florida 17-1.
“We went through a lot of things throughout our season,” Lessa said.
“We stayed humble, we got bullied by a lot, a lot of teams saying they’re the best, that we have no chance. We stayed quiet. We showed with soccer.”
That was the case in 90 minutes in the rain on Saturday as Iowa Central’s defense, which allowed only seven goals in 19 previous games shut down the Titans who had scored 103 in 17 games.
“Technically, tactically we changed our defense about five times during the season until we found the best,” Lessa said.
“We lost one of our best defenders, she was in the back of our defense. Some people thought we were done after that.”
“We’re composed. We talked about how we wanted to play, how we needed to cover, how we wanted to drop. How we wanted to play with heart all the time. That’s what we did,” said Lessa.
As for Queiroz, who scored both goals in Iowa Central’s 2-0 semifinal victory over Butler Community College, Lessa revealed a secret.
“I told her to think of (U.S. Women’s National Team star) Carli Lloyd,” Lessa said. “Don’t think about any Brazilian player. I know you are proud to be Brazilian but think about Carli Lloyd, the country that wins. Why are we here, because we want to play in the best women’s soccer country in the world. And she thought about Carli Lloyd.”
Quieroz was naturally all smiles after the game.
“Wow,” she said, singing a verse of “We Are the Champions.”
The loss was heartbreaking for the Titans who made their fourth consecutive tournament appearance and now have two runner-up trophies.
“I just really thought that we were going to win it all this year, stay undefeated,” said Titan head coach Jeff Carr. “That was a wonder goal by her. From where she struck it, that was their true chance and she got it.
“Even yesterday when we beat Monroe (in semifinal) we didn’t really play the way we play and it caught up with us. Maybe we were spent emotionally from playing Monroe in double overtime. But kudos to them (Iowa Central) they played with a deep, deep sweeper and double teamed Julia (Hernandez) and some of the others just weren’t playing the way they have.
“Before the game I thought we were pretty pumped but we didn’t play like that. Hats off to Iowa Central, they did what they had to do and got the goal late and we had no time at that point to recover and tie it up. Pretty gutted at the moment.
“It was a very good season, No. 1 most of the season, broke a lot of records as a team and individually this year and it definitely was our most successful even though we went to the finals one other time.
“I am proud of the girls. I am more devastated this time than I was last time because I really thought this was our year. With the talent we had, we are losing so many sophomores that we will hopefully be reloading and not rebuilding.
“The back four were all sophomores. They were the heart and soul of our team, led us both on and off the field. They are unbelievable young ladies and they will do well at the next level.
“A lot of recruiting to do for next season and right now we can’t even think about it, we are just gutted right now. But, life goes on.”
One of the sophomores, defender Serena Delgado made a huge play to deny Iowa Central an early goal when she cleared a shot off the post and away from the Titans’ empty net.
Titans freshman goalkeeper Steff Barreras also made some key early saves as did Iowa Central goalkeeper sophomore Nicole Medeiros, who was named the tournament’s defensive MVP.
Medeiros also denied the Titans on a second half free kick that she cleared over the bar, keeping the Tritons in the game and eventually leading to Queiroz’s winning goal.
Named to the All-Tournament Team were Jemma House of Laramie, Jenna Wade of Darton, Kennedy Rose of Tyler, Amy Strain and Jaclyn Means of Butler, Maia Williams and Marta Turmo of Monroe, Paula Astiazaran, Julia Hernandez and Khadija Shaw of Eastern Florida, and Leicy Santos and Carolina Arbelaez of Iowa Central.
Lewis & Clark and head coach Tim Rooney received the Sportsmanship Award.
The women’s national tournament returns to Eastern Florida in November, 2016.