Photos by SkyHawk Sports Photography
EVANS, GA – The 4th-seeded North Georgia women's soccer team pulled off their biggest upset of the year on Friday evening, battling from behind to defeat top-seeded and 8th-ranked Armstrong Atlantic 3-1 in the semifinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
The win will go down in the history books as the program's first-ever PBC Tournament victory following Tuesday's game that is officially recorded as a tie and advancement in penalty kicks.
North Georgia advances to Championship Sunday and will go up against 2nd-seeded and 12th-ranked Columbus State in the title game. Sunday afternoon's Kickoff at the stadium field at Blanchard Woods Park is set for 1:00 p.m. The winner of the title game will receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
On a cold and windy night outside Augusta, it seemed like the Pirates were destined to advance early, dominating possession in the opening minutes and finally breaking through in the 18th minute as Kristina Pascutti sent a cross into the box and Erin Holt headed home her fourth goal of the season to give Armstrong Atlantic the 1-0 lead.
The Lady Saints would not back down however, answering right back in the 20th minute as Samantha Abrahart slid a pass to Kelsey Martin as she was falling down and Martin sent a laser shot to the top left corner of the goal to knot the score at a goal apiece.
With time running down in the first half, Armstrong's Stephanie James played a ball back to Pirate goalkeeper Tracey Mitchell, but the pass back trickled past the keeper and gave the Lady Saints a 2-1 edge heading into intermission.
With all the confidence in the world after halftime, North Georgia controlled possession dominated ever aspect of the game. In the 64th minute, Casey Smith lined up for a free kick and served a perfect ball into the box, finding Natalie Douglass who finished inside the right post to extend the Lady Saints' lead to pair at 3-1.
Defense took over from there as North Georgia clamped down on the Pirates and thwarted every offense attack in the final minutes. Armstrong had a golden chance in the 70th minute as Emily Cattanach lined up for a shot that hit the post, and followed with another attempt just wide of the mark, but the Lady Saints kept the Pirates' ship at bay over the final 20 minutes to capture the program's first-ever PBC Tournament victory.
Kirsten Ross was stellar in goal, allowing just the one Armstrong score and tallying seven saves for the Lady Saints. The junior improves to 8-2 on the year, and 1-0-1 during the 2010 postseason.
North Georgia will participate in Saturday's Breakfast of Champions presented by the Peach Belt Conference at Blanchard Woods Park, providing a free soccer clinic to local area children. Photos of the event will be available at SaintsSports.com on Saturday evening.