By CARL KOTALA / Special To The Corsicana Daily Sun
MELBOURNE, Fla. — Megan Nutley and Trudi Carter have done it again … and the Navarro College Bulldogs are moving on at the NJCAA women’s soccer tournament.
For the second straight game, Nutley provided a huge, goal-saving defensive play and Carter delivered the game-winning shot as the third-seeded Bulldogs defeated No. 6 College of Southern Maryland 1-0 on a rain-soaked Wednesday night to advance to the national semifinals.
Navarro (18-3-1) will play Friday night against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. There will be a three-team playoff today beginning with No. 4 Darton State playing No. 9 Owens Community College in a 10-minute overtime/golden-goal format.
The winner of that game will then face No. 5 Butler CC to see who will join Navarro, top-seeded Iowa Western and No. 7 Laramie County CC in the semifinals.
Whomever the Bulldogs play, they know they will have to be better than they were Wednesday night, where field conditions, a wet ball and a good College of Southern Maryland team proved to be big obstacles to overcome.
“Not our best,” Navarro Coach Debbie Bonner said. “I think we were more worried of slipping and this and that, worried about dumb things and we really didn’t come out and play (the way) we should have.
“I’ve got to give credit. Southern Maryland played a great game. They’re very well coached and they came out and they wanted it, and they wanted it bad.”
In fact, the Hawks gave Navarro quite a scare with just under seven minutes to play in the first half when an attempt to get the ball into the box bounced high and over the head of Bulldogs goalkeeper Kenia Medina.
However, just before the ball could cross the line, Nutley swooped in to save the day and clear it out.
“I was watching (Kenia), and for some reason I felt like it was going to go over (her head),” Nutley said. “Right when I saw it, I just took off sprinting because I didn’t want it to go in. It was an instinct.”
In Monday’s opening round, Nutley headed out a potentially game-tying goal in the closing minutes of a 2-1 victory against tournament host, Eastern Florida State College.
Carter scored the game-winning goal in that one with 11:28 to play. This time, she scored the clinching goal with 3:10 remaining thanks to a nice play by teammate Shanise Foster.
As the Hawks tried to clear the ball, and with virtually everyone running up field, Foster took possession and fed a perfect pass to Carter, who drilled a shot that went across the goal and past goalkeeper Jasmine Biggs from about 30 yards out.
“(Shanise) looked up and I said,’ Foster!’ and she passed it and I saw the keeper going to her right and decided,’ OK, I’m going to the far side.’”
Carter’s goal made up for a frustrating night for the Bulldogs, who had several good looks earlier, but could not convert.
The players said the conditions – it rained virtually all day until finally stopping in the second half – made it tough to play.
“The conditions were really hard because this field is so wet,” Carter said. “Every time we passed the ball, it would shoot fast and it was hard to control it.’
Bonner said her message to her team before Friday’s semifinals would be simple.
“We’ve got to re-focused, we’ve got to get set back up,” she said. “Just work at playing our game again. It’s easy to get pulled out of your game through the excitement, knowing what each step means at this point.
“We’re just going to have to get re-focused, calm down and get ready to go.”