LAKELAND, Fla.—The newly top-ranked Fire women’s soccer team faced its first bit of adversity during its Sun Conference semifinal match against Johnson & Wales.
Trailing 2-0 at halftime, Johnson & Wales answered with two goals in the first 8:30 of the second half to tie the match.
Southeastern answered with the next seven en route to a 10-3 win over the Wildcats to clinch a spot in The Sun Conference Final on Friday.
“The final score is not indicative of how close this game was,” said head coach Randy Belli. “We scored some good goals after they tied it up and in the end it opened up. Credit to Johnson & Wales, they are a tough team and we look forward to playing some good matches with them in the future.”
As the No. 1 seed, the Fire will host second-seeded Keiser. The Seahawks and Fire will meet for the third consecutive year for the tournament title.
Uchenna Kanu was the big catalyst, getting the go-ahead goal within seven minutes of the JWU tying tally, then gave the Fire a 4-2 lead in the 66th minute off a free kick from the top of the box.
“I’m really proud of my team coming back from 2-2,” said Kanu. “I’m proud we didn’t give in to the pressure, we were able to come back and keep fighting.”
Kanu’s 16 points are a new career single-game best, giving her 29 over her last two matches.
The junior also assisted on four second half goals, setting up two of Rachel Wallace’s three tallies in the 78th and 80th minutes, and also set up Gabriella DiDio’s 10th goal of the season off a cross in the 90th minute. Wallace scored her three goals in the span of 5:41.
“I just wanted to work hard and do my best to help the team win,” said Wallace. “I couldn’t have done it without the passes from my team and making openings for me.”
Southeastern scored the first two goals of the match, starting in the sixth minute when Solorzano set up Yulie Lopez for her fourth goal of the season. Kanu headed a pass from DiDio in the 20th minute to give the Fire a 2-0 advantage.
Savannah Jackson jump started the Wildcats, assisting on a goal in the 49th, then scoring in the 54th to tie the match. She also found the back of the net in the 89th minute. Those goals ended a streak of 790 scoreless minutes for the Fire defense.