HIALEAH, FL – Every so often, a team comes together that just seems to have a certain “it factor” – an intangible quality that makes the collective group stand out.
ASA Miami’s women’s soccer team seems to have that “it factor” and it showed Monday night when the Lady Silver Storm won their first-ever Region 8 playoff game with a 2-0 victory over visiting Polk State College in front of a record-breaking crowd at Ted Hendricks Stadium.
In addition to it being the school’s first-ever women’s soccer playoff win, Monday’s victory was also ASA’s (11-6-1) fourth straight win over a conference opponent and second win over the Eagles in a two-week span – the longest such streaks in program history.
The win also sets up the Lady Silver Storm with a Friday night date with No. 9 ranked Eastern Florida State College in the Region 8 semifinals, which will be hosted by EFSC in Melbourne, Florida. ASA Miami upset the then-ranked No. 5 Lady Titans on Oct. 13 with a 2-1 victory at home as a part of their four-game conference winning streak.
After Monday’s game, ASA Miami head coach David Luna celebrated with players and received congratulations from various other ASA head coaches and school administrators – including Silver Storm Director of Athletics Ken Wilcox.
Luna said that Monday’s win is the culmination of his team becoming a family.
“Collectively they’ve come together. They’ve put in the work and they treat each other like a family,” Luna said. “We always preach [being a family]…but it’s one thing when you preach it, but this group actually does it. And you can see it. They fight for each other, they grind for each other, sometimes things get emotional, but that’s a part of being a family – especially a young family. But the success is starting to show.”
“This win is great for the program and it’s great for the girls. Their hard work is showing and it is translating to the field during games,” Luna added. “Now we have to prepare and get ready for Eastern [Florida State College].”
Monday’s game had fans on the edge of their seats for much of the first half. The Silver Storm had multiple clean shots near the net but couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Polk State also had a few shots that appeared to be destined for the back of the net, but ASA sophomore goalkeeper Noemy Franco was able to shutout the Eagles with half a dozen first-half saves.
After a scoreless first half, ASA Miami got what proved to be the game-winning goal from freshman Ivana Slipcevic – taking control of a pass on the left side and shooting a laser past the Polk State goalie into the back-right corner of the net in the 51st minute.
ASA Miami's (@ASAMiamiWSoc) Ivana Slipcevic's 51st minute goal is mesmerizing to watch on repeat! ��— NJCAA Soccer (@NJCAA_Soccer) October 23, 2018
More importantly, it proved to be the game-winner to set the Silver Storm up for a Friday night date with No. 9 Eastern Florida State in the Region 8 semis!#NJCAASoccer pic.twitter.com/jYlqCfyKsa
The Lady Silver Storm got an insurance goal in the 87th minute when freshman Nailyn Bitar-Tovar was able to rebound a blocked shot and put the ball in the back of the net.
When ASA Miami travels to Eastern Florida State Friday, it’ll still be chasing history and will be looking to avenge their Sept. 29th (3-2) loss – but Luna said that his team will only be focused on themselves.
“The mindset for us is business as usual. We do us…we worry about us,” Luna said. “Obviously [Eastern Florida State College] is an extremely difficult opponent – they are very good and they are nationally ranked – and their plan is to win the regional tournament and go into the national tournament. And our intention is to not let that happen.”