By Michael Parsons, Eastern Florida State College
BREVARD COUNTY, FL - There was a time when Tenysha Taylor used to take a free kick and rush through it.
Well, not anymore.
The Monroe Community College sophomore scored on a pair of free kicks Tuesday as the seventh-seeded Tribunes controlled the game early and rolled to a 6-2 victory over Cape Fear Community College in a Pool B matchup at the NJCAA women's soccer National Championship Tournament at Eastern Florida State College.
"We practice them a lot and my coach told me whenever you have a free kick, you should take (your) time," Taylor said. "He tells me I can do it. So whenever I take a free kick now, I take my time."
Monroe CC (13-3-2) will take on No. 2 Butler (21-2-0) on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in a game that will decide who will advance to the semifinals.
Tribunes coach Sal Galvano was pleased with the way his team was able to work through some early-game nerves.
"We have a lot of freshmen who haven't been in this national competition, so I think that really played a factor in the first 15 to 20 minutes until we got a few goals and that settled us down," Galvano said. "That was a big thing for us. But (we were) nervous for sure."
The Tribunes got an early break when an own goal by Cape Fear gave them a 1-0 lead at the 14-minute mark. But it wasn't long before Monroe CC was back on the scoreboard as three minutes later, Taylor launched a free kick that hit off the crossbar and bounced behind the goal line, giving the Tribunes a two-goal advantage.
Cape Fear (17-3-0) got its first goal of the tournament in the 54th minute when Janessa Annis converted on a corner kick into the box. Annis would later score again to give her a nice memory of her trip to the national tournament.
Monroe CC closed out its scoring when Taylor nailed a free kick from about 30 yards out and Bianey Serrano found the back of the net in the 89th minute.
If Tuesday's game helped the Tribunes get used to the stage, their experience should have them ready for the high-level of competition they are facing.
Monroe CC played four teams that reached the national tournament – Parkland, Iowa Western, Schoolcraft and Laramie.
"Throughout the year we had tough competition, knowing those games are going to make us who we are," Galvano said. "We're battle tested."