Written by Mike Walker
Free pizza may have helped entice a large crowd of SCAD students to come cheer on their fellow Bees in back-to-back matches of the SCAD Savannah women’s and men’s soccer teams Saturday night, but the level of play and opportunity to be proud of our school stood fully on their own. With perfect weather—what pilots call a “blue bird day” of clear skies and bright sunlight—the women’s team faced off against the Florida Memorial University Lions of Miami Gardens while the men’s team squared off against another Floridian foe, Keiser University’s men’s soccer team from Fort Lauderdale. It was an excellent day for college soccer and excellent collegiate soccer was played.
The women’s game got off to an exciting start with faced-paced playmaking by both teams but through the first half it seemed that all SCAD’s brave efforts were to be in vain until Nikki Able at the 40th minute got in a goal, assisted by Savannah Raines. Coming back from this stunner in the second half, however, the Lions’ Lovely Placide was able to score a goal of her own despite the best effort’s of SCAD’s keeper Lauren Kittle to keep such shots squarely out of SCAD’s goal. The stage was set for a tie, but in overtime SCAD’s Mikaela Heyboer (assist by Emily Cook) was able to score and turn the tide from a draw to a win.
By the time the SCAD men’s team took the field at 7 p.m., the atmosphere in the stands had become even more festive—in fact, the spectators were spilling well out of the stands, with the nearby embankment crowded with fans. And it was not all SCAD students: numerous families with young players on Savannah United and Richmond Hill Soccer Club teams were in attendance as well, enjoying the games.
Standing near the SCAD men’s team as they warmed up, I couldn’t help but notice that Keiser University’s team was highly-organized and poised: SCAD was not going in against an easy opponent. When the game began, much like the women’s match before it, the well-trained and guarded defenses of both teams made successful shots nearly impossible. SCAD contended with numerous offsides and several fouls in their eagerness to score, and their frustration was palpable. Neither team could manage to send the ball into their opponent’s goal so the first half concluded nil to nil.
The second half, however, was magic for SCAD, or rather, it was magical for SCAD due to the team’s hard work and the exceptional efforts especially of Tom Barry and Cian Lynch. In the fifty-fourth minute, Barry was able to score at last on Keiser assisted by Lynch’s intrepid play-making. Incredibly, in the eighty-eighth minute, their roles became reversed with Barry assisting Lynch on a goal. In the midst of a driven midfield and bold attacks by forwards, SCAD’s own defense held strong and Keiser not only suffered the indignity of a loss but a loss of two to nil as they failed to score on SCAD.
Both Coaches Rebecca Gunn of the SCAD Women and Darren Spong of the SCAD Men can be very proud of their teams as can everyone in the SCAD community. It was soccer at its finest and it happened right here at SCAD before an appreciative and joyous audience mostly of SCAD students.