By John Jordan
ST. AUGUSTINE – No. 3 (United Soccer Coaches Division II Top 25) Flagler College blanked Nova Southeastern University 4-0 in a NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Tournament national quarterfinal Sunday afternoon at Saints Field.
With the win, Flagler (23-0-1), the Southeast Region champion, advances to the NCAA Division II final four, which begins Thursday (Dec. 12) at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Flagler's opponent and time of the match are yet to be determined. The national title match will be played on Dec. 14. Nova Southeastern, the South Region champion, ends its season with a 17-4-2 record.
"This was an incredibly tough game against a really strong opponent," said head coach Ashley Martin. "I thought Nova Southeastern did a fantastic job of making it really difficult for us to play today. They were a tough team to break down and they had the better chances to score in the first half. We needed halftime to come so we could re-group."
Maria Castorino Mujica put the Saints on the board in the 43rd minute when she served a ball into the box off a touch pass from Annie Habeeb. The service into the box went off the fingers of the Nova Southeastern keeper and into the net.
Hannah Dolores cleaned up a rebound in the 62nd minute to stake the Saints to a 2-0 lead. Castorino Mujica lobbed in a corner kick into the middle of the goal box. Sara Carr took the initial shot, which was stopped by the keeper, but the ball trickled to Dolores who had a wide open shot on by the near post.
The insurance goal came in the 73rd minute. Carr headed down a cross pass that was stopped by Natalie Robayna, but Habeeb was there to clean up the rebound and tuck the shot inside the left post.
Lorena Lopez finished the scoring when she converted a penalty kick in the 76th minute.
Sarah-Lisa Dubel turned in her 11th clean sheet of the season as she made two saves, both in the second half. Robayna tallied two saves for the Sharks before giving way to Shannon Hearty with 15-plus minutes left.
The only other Flagler athletics team to go this far in the postseason, in the NCAA Division II era, was the volleyball team in 2009 who also advanced to the final four.