Lady Saints Fall to Columbus State 4-2 in Title Game
Photos by SkyHawk Sports Photography
EVANS, GA – The North Georgia women's soccer team saw their magical run in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament came to an end on Sunday afternoon, falling 4-2 at the hands of Columbus State in the Championship game at Blanchard Woods Park.
Columbus State, ranked 12th in the country, improves to 19-1-1 on the season as they pick up the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship and snag the automatic bid to next week's NCAA Tournament. North Georgia goes 1-1-1 in the PBC Tournament and fall to 14-5-1 overall on the year as the Lady Saints' National Tournament hopes will now rest in the hands of the NCAA Committee.
The 48-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced via a live webcast on NCAA.com Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. With Columbus State receiving the automatic bid in the Peach Belt, Pfeiffer University sneaks into the field from the Conference Carolinas, while the final automatic qualifier goes to Lenoir-Rhyne from the South Atlantic Conference. The Lady Saints can only hope they are one of the three at-large selections from the committee.
Playing in their first Championship game in school history, North Georgia got off to a fast start as Danielle Brannan fired a shot at CSU goalkeeper Mary Mancin 11 seconds into the contest, while Lauren Schenk sent a header on frame four minutes later. In the seventh minute, Casey Smith had a pair of chances on corner kicks, but the Cougars thwarted both attempts to keep the game scoreless.
Columbus State took over from there and scored the game's first goal in the 19th minute as Jordan McKenzie sent an uncontested serve into the box, finding the head of Stephanie Lowery who connected with the back of the net for a 1-0 Cougar lead. KC MacEachern followed just two minutes later, taking a pass from Kate Walton and scoring her sixth goal of the season to extend the lead to 2-0. The Lady Saints rallied in the final minutes of the opening half, but never connected on goal to trail by a pair heading into intermission.
Columbus State came out in the second half and continued to extend the lead, scoring in the 53rd minute off a goal from Leslie Mathews inside the left post, giving the Cougars a commanding three-goal advantage.
North Georgia finally jumped on the board in the 77th minute as Lauren Schenk found an opening and fired a shot that deflected off the cross bar and came straight down, hitting the CSU goalkeeper in the back and crossing the goal line for the senior's third goal of the season.
Just when it looked like the Lady Saints could capture the momentum, the Columbus State offense used timely passing the perfect spacing to come away with another goal, this time Ashley Miller received a touch pass from Emily Husted and Miller fired at the open net to make it a 4-1 game.
North Georgia continued to fight back in the 80th minute as Smith lined up for a corner and skied a serve to the far post, finding Douglass who headed home her seventh goal of the season to cut the lead two a pair once again at 4-2.
The Lady Saints made a push down the stretch, but the Cougars' defense was as strong as ever, shutting down North Georgia in the final minutes to capture the Tournament Championship.
Kirsten Ross suffered the loss for the Lady Saints, allowing three goals and tallying five saves, while Jessica English came on for the final 15 minutes and surrendered a single score. Mancin was the winner, going the distance and recording six saves, while giving up both North Georgia goals.
North Georgia's Jessica English, Natalie Douglass, and Lauren Schenk were named the PBC All-Tournament team, the most selections the Lady Saints have ever received in six seasons.
Only time will tell if the Lady Saints will see their season extended to next week's NCAA Tournament. North Georgia set program records in 2010 for most wins with 14, consecutive wins with 11, while also capturing the first-ever postseason victory since entering the NCAA in 2005.
Casey Smith, Kelly Martin, Brittany Bauschka, Jessica English, and Lauren Schenk were the most successful senior class in school history with the most wins in a four-year span, with the squad possibly leading the program to their first-ever NCAA Tournament.
2010 Women's Soccer All-Tournament Team
Danielle Shaw, Lander
Maggie Mueller, Clayton State
Denise Mannion, Montevallo
Ally Treat, Georgia College
Danielle Fey, Armstrong Atlantic
Erin Holt, Armstrong Atlantic
Rebecca Womack, UNC Pembroke
Sheena Mature, UNC Pembroke
Jessica English, North Georgia
Natalie Douglass, North Georgia
Lauren Schenk, North Georgia
Stephanie Lowery, Columbus State
Kate Walton, Columbus State
Catherine Lovin, Columbus State
Ashton Ziadie, Columbus State