Friday night there were approximately 200 Lady Bisons fans in attendance for the 1-0 Atlantic Sun Conference win at North Florida.
Six of the Lady Bisons are from the Jacksonville area. Parents and friends of those players made it a home field advantage for the Lady Bisons. Sunday afternoon at 1 the Lady Bisons play Jacksonville (7-6-4, 4-1-4, A-Sun). Coach Jon Ireland is hopeful that another big crowd will be there to support his team.
“It was more fans than we get at some of our homes games,” said Ireland. “It was incredible. We probably had more fans than North Florida did.
“The parents really talked about the game with their friends and there were a lot of high school friends of our players. When our players went over to thank the fans the applause from the fans was huge. It was really neat for our Florida girls, but also for our whole team.”
It was the second A-Sun win of the season for the Lady Bisons. Getting a victory in an area that has become a center for recruiting was also a plus.
“We have gotten several kids out of the area,” said Ireland. “There were several high school kids watching the game so it was great to win from that standpoint.”
Freshman goalkeeper Erin Zerio earned her first shutout of her college career, stopping three shots. This was the third straight game that Zerio has played all 90 minutes in net after playing most of the season in a split-shift situation with freshman Ally Marler.
“Erin has been playing really well,” said Ireland. “Early in the season she and Ally both had their moments, but they also really struggled.
“I didn’t want to just hand someone the key because there was so much pressure. I think splitting time was the best thing we could have done. As time went on we felt Erin was ready to go and we wanted to use Ally on the field.”
While Ireland would like to duplicate the winning outcome against Jacksonville, he admits the North Florida game was less than perfect.
“It was kind of a sloppy game,” said Ireland. “It was really windy. The field was really hard. The ball bounced all over the place. It was not real easy to control. But like I told our girls after the game, a win is a win.”
The Lady Bisons were outshot 13-4, but only allowed three shots on goal. Two of the Lady Bisons shots were determined to be shots on goal.
When sophomore forward Meghan McGuire scored at 73:21 of the second half Ireland was concerned about how his team might respond defensively.
“North Florida had very few good opportunities to score,” said Ireland. “The best thing for us is that we played great defense. “We scored with a quite a bit of time left in the second half. I wondered if we could hold the lead. With so many freshmen on the team I wondered if we would be disciplined. And we gave up very shots in the second half.”
McGuire became the fourth Lady Bisons player to score two or more goals this season. Kate Spellman was credited with the assist as McGuire headed the ball into the net off of a corner kick.
“Meghan scored a beautiful goal,” said Ireland. “Right before that we had a corner kick and we hit the post. Kate played a beautiful ball to the back post and Meghan got up and won the header. She and Katie Wood are our best players in winning headers. It was great to see her step up.”
The Lady Bisons have won four games, tying for the season high for wins as a program. With only two games left to play Ireland would like to win at least five.
“This is the third year we have won four games,” said Ireland. “We have a chance to get that fifth one. Considering how young we are to win five games would be huge.”