So you would have to say Palm Beach Atlantic “froze” the soccer ball in the opening round of NCCAA National Championship pool play.
The ninth-seeded Sailfish (8-6-3) surprised the No. 1-seeded Lee University Lady Flames (14-3-2) with a goal by Elizabeth Gonzales in the 14th minute, and never took another shot the remaining 76 minutes of the unusual 1-1 tie staged at the Austin-Tindall Regional Park.
Palm Beach Atlantic kept all 11 players on the defensive side of midfield and battled to keep 27 Lee shots (10 on goal) out of the back of its net.
The NCCAA is not playing overtime in pool play. Each team is awarded one point for a tie and three points for a win.
“It’s hard when you play a team that is satisfied to sit in and play for a point, but we only have ourselves to blame,” said a frustrated coach Matt Yelton. “You can’t take 27 shots and convert only one, and you can’t give up one shot and let them score.” PBA keeper Allison Fox had nine saves in the tie.
The Lady Flames finally found a way to score in the 63rd minutes, thanks to the work of seniors Leah Fortune and Ode Fulutudilu. With Fulutudilu fighting all-out, she found a way to slip the ball to Fortune who scored her 13th goal of the year on a shot that was tucked into the goal from inside the six.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors today and we’ve dug ourselves a hole that we can only dig ourselves out of,” said Yelton. “At this point we have to make sure we approach the game (Wednesday, 2 p.m. against Dallas Baptist) with the right mentality.
“It’s frustrating but the fact is we have to play our game and make sure we bring it on Wednesday to get a result that allows us to go through.” Four teams will advance from pool play and into the final four.