Tennessee Wesleyan College traveled to Baylor High School to meet NCAA II University of West Florida on Saturday. This was UWF's second game of the season after they beat Spring Hill College 3-0 earlier this week. UWF is an excellent program, they have won the last 4 Gulf South Conference Championships and are projected to win their fifth straight this season. Their coach Bill Elliot previously coached at TWC before moving to UWF 15 years ago.
All this set up for an enthralling match and excellent test for the TWC team made up mostly of Freshman and Sophomores. Having gone to double overtime earlier this week against Southern Poly tiredness was a worry at the back of the minds of the TWC coaching staff.
This may have been the case because TWC started slowly. They struggled to get a grip on the game and had a lot of passes go astray. UWF on the other hand came out flying, at times their passing and moving was a joy to behold. This being said the resolute TWC kept them at bay for 30 minutes until a ball into the TWC penalty area was partially cleared to UWF's Bermudan midfielder Marquel Waldron who took a touch and from 25 yards out curled a shot into the top corner past TWC's goalkeeper Zack Plaice who could do nothing about the effort. The first half went from bad to worst for TWC when they conceded a second 8 minutes later, when the UWF left back Alex Dumond played the ball into their left wings feet, made an overlapping run and kept going. He received the ball in the TWC penalty area and fired a left footed shot near post into the TWC net. TWC went in at halftime down 2-0.
TWC shuffled the pack at half time bringing on Ryan Smith and Joshua Leader for their first appearances of the season. The changes seemed to work for TWC who started brightly creating a lot more chances than they had in the first half. Josh Simnett who moved to right back for the second half was getting into the attack on a regular basis, had a rocket volley tipped over the bar. TWC was having more joy down the left too through Martyn Freestone who moved over there for the second half. It was through these two that TWC got back into the game, Simnett charging down the right played an inch perfect cross just over the UWF right backs head to Freestone who was waiting on the back post and after an excellent first touch used his second to slot it past the UWF goalkeeper. TWC were back in it! Chances came and went for TWC and it looked like they were going to come away with a tough 2-1 defeat, but with 2 minutes left in regulation TWC won a free kick in the UWF half. John Carrier took it, he whipped an excellent ball into the box, players jumped but no-one got a touch including the UWF goalkeeper who let the ball through his legs and into the net, the TWC players were in raptures. 2-2 TWC had pulled two goals back and were going to overtime for the second time in a week.
The first period of overtime seemed to fly by with both teams having chances, but nothing clear cut. Then 1 minute into the second overtime UWF won a corner, an excellent ball was curled into the TWC six yard box and UWF's Alex Dumond rose above everyone else to power his header into the back of the net. UWF finished the match with a 18-9 shot advantage over Tennessee Wesleyan, as well as being awarded four corner kicks compared to none for the Bulldogs. Zach Plaice and Josh Leader combined to stop three shots by UWF.
After the heartbreaking double overtime loss earlier this week to Southern Poly this will be a tough pill to swallow for TWC, but with another game just round the corner against Shorter College TWC will have to pick themselves up and dust themselves down to prepare for another tough test. TWC play Shorter College next on Tuesday September 7th at 7:00 pm.