USCB’s Aurya Downey delivered the game-winner on a penalty in the 75th minute to lift the Sand Sharks’ women’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over visiting St. Thomas (Fla.) in the Sun Conference Game of the Week on Saturday at Fin Land Field.
Mariah Ruckdeschel recorded her second shutout of season, making 11 saves on 23 shots to preserve the clean sheet and extend the Sand Sharks’ shutout streak to 192 minutes.
The first 15 minutes of the match were slow for both teams. Despite the slow start, USCB’s Marcela Shartouny had a chance to break open the scoring in the sixth minute. Downey fed a long ball into the box, and Shartouny was able to put a foot on it in front of the box, but the attempt sailed high.
After the 18th minute, St. Thomas started to dominate possession, especially for the next eight minutes. During that stretch, the Bobcats struck six shots (four on goal) and collected a pair of corners. USCB’s defense stayed strong, as it preserved the shutout.
The Sand Sharks’ final chance to tally a goal in the first half came at the 30th minute, when Mari Kalvatn just missed on her header. Downey ripped a left-footed corner, and the ball found Kalvatn, but the STU goalkeeper made the save at the back post.
At the halftime break, St. Thomas held a 13-6 advantage in shots, including a 6-1 advantage in shots on goal.
After exchanging shots to open the second half, STU continued to attack the USCB net in the 65th and 68th minutes. Ruckdeschel again proved to be strong between the pipes, as she collected two more saves.
Just seven minutes later, the Sand Sharks finally broke the scoreless tie in the 75th minute. USCB was able to draw a foul inside the 18-yard box, and Downey was the one who stepped up to take the kick. The rookie midfielder struck the ball into the right side of the net to give USCB the 1-0 advantage.
For the next 15 minutes, St. Thomas maintained most of the possession. The Bobcats had three looks at goal, but none of the attempts were on frame. With USCB’s defense staying strong, the Sand Sharks preserved the shutout and upended STU, 1-0.
The win lifts the Sand Sharks (3-1) to third place in the Sun Conference standings going into a road match at Ave Maria (Fla.) on Saturday.
Photo by Bob Cragin