By CARL KOTALA / Special To The Corsicana Daily Sun
MELBOURNE, FL. — Trudi Carter kept telling herself she would score a goal. All she had to do was be patient.
That faith was rewarded Monday night when the Navarro College freshman took a pass from Erica Pena, turned quickly and drilled the ball into the far corner of the goal with her left foot.
The goal, which came with 11:28 to play, turned out to be the game winner as the No. 3 Bulldogs defeated 10th-seeded host Eastern Florida State College 2-1 Monday night in the opening round of the NJCAA women’s tournament.
Navarro (17-3-1) will play the College of Southern Maryland Wednesday night for a chance to advance to the semifinals.
“It’s a good win to get through,” Bulldogs coach Debbie Bonner said. “We’re excited about it. We knew we were coming in against a very talented team. Plus, it’s the home team, so you have everything going against you.
“I just wanted us to get in here, play hard, and play our game. If you look, both teams play very similarly.”
The momentum of the game did seem to flow back and forth continually as both teams took their turn pressing the action.
Navarro got on top early when Shelby Evans scored an unassisted goal at the 33:56 mark of the first half. However, Eastern Florida would tie it at 1-1 roughly 16 minutes later on a penalty kick by Sue Kumaning after Navarro’s Judith Bast was called for a foul in the box.
Both teams would have their share of scoring chances the rest of the way, but with solid play in goal by Navarro’s Kenia Medina and on defense by Bast, the Bulldogs were able to turn away Eastern Florida each time.
Carter, meanwhile, had a couple of looks at the goal despite being guarded heavily, and it looked as if she might be getting frustrated. Instead, it was just the opposite.
“I relaxed and talked to myself,” Carter said. “I said, ‘Trudi, just relax. It’s coming. Just keep calm. And that’s what I did.”
The pass from Pena was perfectly timed, as it allowed Carter to make a quick turn against a pair of Eastern Florida defenders and create shooting space.
“I did a slide turn, I looked up, I saw the goal, I saw the goalkeeper on the (left) side and I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to the (right) side,” Carter said of her 22nd goal of the season.
The victory was the fifth in a row for Navarro, which is now 15-1-1 in its past 17 games and was yet another sign in just how much progress the Bulldogs have made throughout the season.
“It’s a team that pushes each other,” Bonner said. “Usually, people are fighting for the starting positions. But (this team) pushes each other. That’s not normal. It’s been an exciting year because of that.”