Soccer takes first loss from West Florida

UWF’s Daniela Cruz sends the ball up the field Sept. 16 with UNA’s Chloe Roberts right behind her.

by Staff Writer Matt Wilson

UNA wrapped up a weekend of home games with a win against West Alabama Sept. 14 night and a loss to West Florida Sept. 16.

The Sept. 15 game saw the Lions take care of West Alabama easily behind two goals from Chloe Richards and Chloe Roberts’ 84th career goal.  Ellis Hillman added a goal and an assist on the night as well, leading UNA to defeat West Alabama 4-0.

Sept. 16’s game matched the Lions, ranked 21st nationally, against West Florida, ranked seventh.

The Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute thanks to a goal from Nikki Brown. Roberts whipped in a corner kick that found Jennifer Osmond in the box.  Osmond flicked a header toward the back post where Brown was waiting to knock it in.

West Florida pulled level just before halftime when a high lob into UNA’s box caused problems for the Lions’ defense before being headed in by West Florida’s Shelby Bush. Bush ended the day with a hat trick for the Argonauts.

Head Coach Graham Winkworth said giving up the goal  just before halftime changed things for his team.

“Allowing them to equalize before half changed our mindset, our body language,” Winkworth said. “We were confident and in control up until that point.”

The second half saw sweeping changes in momentum in both directions. West Florida picked up where they left off in the first half and created scoring chances early and often in the second half. Bush scored the second of her three goals on a cross five minutes after the restart.

It seemed as though UNA had been eclipsed by the momentum until around the hour mark when Roberts was brought down inside the West Florida box and awarded a penalty kick. UNA trailed 2-1 at the time and could have gone level with a goal, but the West Florida goalkeeper came up with a big save on Roberts’ penalty kick and Brown’s ensuing rebound shot.

Winkworth said the missed penalty kick was evidence of the kind of day the Lions were having.

“If we (had made) that penalty kick and even(ed) the score, the result could have been much different,” Winkworth said.

West Florida scored again in the 67th and 72nd minutes, bringing the final score to 4-1.

Julia Osmond said the defense needs to work on minimizing individual mistakes.

“The defense has been playing solid as a unit this season — we just need to work on stopping making individual mistakes at the back,” she said.

Brown said that after a tough loss, it is time to wipe the slate clean.

“The upper classmen have experienced losing to West Florida before, so the team is feeling kind of down,” Brown said. “However, we know that we have to wipe the slate clean and focus on the next game as they come thick and fast during the season.

“If we take care of this upcoming weekend, we still set ourselves up for a good position in conference.”

The Lions travel to Valdosta State Sept. 21 and West Georgia Sept. 23 for two important conference games.

The Lions’ next home game will be homecoming weekend on Sept. 28 against Christian Brothers.