TRINITY — There was no panic when the ball ripped across the back of the net.
Mitchell was already playing at a high level Wednesday when Gulf's Alicia Schulman blasted a ball from just inside the Mustangs' 18-yard line to tie the game.
Instead, Mitchell continued to pepper Gulf keeper Melissa Morlan, finally breaking through for two goals in the final 10 minutes for a 3-1 victory.
"It came down to the last 10 minutes," Mitchell coach Karl Kukec said. "… I guess we stepped it up."
Morlan made 12 saves, including a flurry of stops late. Buccaneers coach Shari Schau praised the junior's effort.
"She's never played better," Schau said. "She was outstanding. I haven't seen her make some of those saves she made tonight."
But the Buccaneers' defense could not clear the ball, and the result was a pair of late goals by Mustangs senior Marisa Russo. The first was a two-on-one opportunity set up by Mitchell senior Jessica Jagielski and knocked in by Russo for a 2-1 lead.
Then Russo cleaned up a mess in front of the net, taking a ball from senior Shelby Wright and scoring for a 3-1 lead. Wright was honored at halftime in her final home game. She graduates this month and will enroll at Nova Southeastern to play soccer next fall.
"Ever since (the Hudson loss) we've been taking every practice seriously," Russo said. "The end of the season counts the most. … This game meant a lot for us."
Mitchell (12-1-2) scored its first goal in the first 40 minutes, a shot from Russo deflected off Morlan and knocked in by Jagielski for a 1-0 lead.
Gulf (5-4-4) had some chances, none better than Schulman's game-tying goal with 21 minutes left in the game. But the Bucs have lost three straight.
"The girls know we cannot tie again or lose again," Kukec said. "They know there are consequences when things don't go well. The last 10 minutes made a difference."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.