DAHLONEGA, GA – The 4th-seeded North Georgia women's soccer team rose to the occasion on Tuesday evening, advancing past 5th-seeded Georgia College 3-2 in penalty kicks as Sara Kate Rogers drilled home the game-winner to send the Lady Saints to their first PBC Tournament victory in school history.
The Lady Saints will now advance to the "Final Four" of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, traveling to Evans, Ga., and Blanchard Woods Park to take on top-seeded and 3rd-ranked Armstrong Atlantic on Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. The 4th-seeded Lady Saints will look to avenge a 2-1 loss earlier this season at the hands of Armstrong Atlantic, as they will battle the Pirates for the right to play in the PBC Championship game on Sunday afternoon.
One of the most exciting women's soccer games in program history kept spectators on the edge of their seats all night long and it was nothing different as fans made their way to the north end of the field for penalty kicks that would decide the seasons of North Georgia and Georgia College.
Jessica English was placed in goal for the crucial penalty kick shootout and Georgia College's Brittany Borror buried the opening kick in the back of the net, while North Georgia's Casey Smith followed and hit the left cross bar, giving the Bobcats an early advantage.
Both teams recorded goals in their next two attempts as Brittany Bauschka notched the score, and Danielle Brannan followed and connected to extend the shootout. Olivia Holden was the sixth Bobcat to step into the hot seat, and she was blocked by English, giving Samantha Abrahart the chance to win it, but the freshman was high and wide of the mark, sending penalty kicks to the eighth round.
English came up big once again in the eighth round as Taylor Yee was denied the score, setting up the heroics for Sara Kate Rogers who sent a kick that was blocked by Bobcat keeper Mary Robb Plunkett, but the ball deflected past the goal line, finding the inside of the left post and sending the Lady Saints and the Soccer Complex into celebration.
The quarterfinal round victory is the first-ever postseason win for the Lady Saints since entering the NCAA six year ago, as North Georgia is now 1-5 all-time in the PBC Tournament.
North Georgia had plenty of action in the first half as well when the Lady Saints' second corner kick of the game proved to be decisive as Casey Smith served the ball just inside the far post and Natalie Douglass got a head on it and guided home her fifth score of the year to give North Georgia a 1-0 lead. Smith recorded her nation leading 16th assists of the year on the play.
North Georgia had a chance in the 63rd minute to extend the lead as the Georgia College keeper came out to make a stop and Emily Dover eluded the keeper momentarily, but Dover was pulled to the ground as she attempted a shot that was smothered by Plunkett for her third save of the game.
Emily Dover would get another chance just minutes later in the 65 minute as Brittany Schmidt sent a serve into the box, finding a streaking Dover who sent a diving header to back of the net. The goal for Dover was her seventh of the season, while Schmidt tallied her third helper of the year on the play.
With the Bobcats looking down and out late, Ally Treat single handedly brought Georgia College back to life as the senior scored a pair of goals in a three minute span to knot the score at two goals apiece.
Treat's first goal was from 40 yards out on a pass from Jessica Newland, while her second score was a laser from 45 yards out in the same area, giving Georgia College the equalizer and setting up the improbable finish. After a pair of scoreless overtimes, North Georgia made the most of penalty kicks to advance to the semi-finals of the PBC Tournament.
During North Georgia and Armstrong Atlantic's semi-final contest on Friday evening at Blanchard Woods Park on field #1, Columbus State and UNC Pembroke will battle on field #4, with the two winners squaring off in the title game on Sunday for the PBC Tournament Championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The North Georgia Sports Communications office will have coverage of all the weekend festivities in Evans, Ga., including Friday morning's Fall Festival Banquet with the announcing of the All-Tournament team. The Lady Saints are set to depart Dahlonega, Ga., Thursday afternoon for the weekend's events.