Ashley Seifert
Staff Writer

The University of West Florida’s women’s soccer team dropped out of the Gulf South Conference running when the Valdosta State Blazers defeated the Argonauts 2-1 last Friday.

After a defensive struggle to see who would come out on top, the Blazers (10-6-2, 9-2-1 GSC) took the lead in the 26th minute when forward Maegen Doyle, off of midfielder Karly Lenz‘s assist, propelled the ball past goalkeeper Katelyn Burkhart’s defensive stance and netted the first goal of the game.

Blazers’ midfielder/defender Kim Caitlin Alderman helped her team pull even further ahead when she launched the ball into the top right corner of the net with seven minutes to spare in the first half.

During the second half, the Blazers brought forth a strong defense in hopes of denying the Argos (12-6, 9-3 GSC) a chance to turn the game around.

However, freshman Georgia Bailey found an advantageous hole in the Blazers’ defense and scored in the 83rd minute.

Head coach Joe Bartlinski said that although his team wasn’t able to outlast the Blazers to secure a place in the GSC finals, he still felt this game afforded them a great learning opportunity.

“I’m happy for our seniors. They worked very hard to get where they are,” Bartlinski said. “For such a young team, however, this is unfamiliar territory to them. Valdosta State has a lot of seniors compared to us, so of course they showed a little more maturity from the start of the game.”

Bartlinski added that it was their maturity that made all the difference in the grand scheme of things.

“I feel as though we were as well prepared for the game as we possibly could be,” Bartlinski said. “We have sixteen new kids this year, so this one marked their very first tournament.”

Bartlinski said that, fortunately, this learning opportunity would provide them with a little more experience and a little more knowledge going forward.

Freshman forward Hugrun Elvarsdottir agreed on that point.

“We worked really hard during the second half, but we should have come together sooner to show our real game and to show what we’re actually capable of,” Elvarsdottir said. “We should have played our best for 90 minutes rather than the 45 we ended up scoring in.”

Elvarsdottir said that although herself and her teammates prepared for this game just like they would any other, their mentality during the first half was off by a little.

“We should have brought in more positivity and worked better as a unit. Not only that, but I personally think we should have gone with a penalty in the last minutes,” Elvarsdottir said. “That way, we would have finished the game earlier.”

The GSC semifinal round included the Argos, the Blazers, the University of North Alabama Lions and the University of West Alabama Tigers. The Lions’ 1-0 defeat over the Tigers resulted in a final match between the Blazers and the Lions on Sunday at Brosnaham Park.

Valdosta State went on to win the 2014 GSC Women’s Soccer Tournament Championship, shutting out North Alabama 3-0.