GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s soccer sophomore forward Cienna Rideout (Las Vegas, Nev./Coronado) scored the game-winning golden goal in the 102nd minute of play to lead the third-seeded Spartans to a stunning 2-1 double overtime victory over Southern Conference regular season co-champion Samford Friday night in the SoCon Tournament semifinals in Birmingham at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium.
The victory sends the Spartans to the SoCon Tournament Championship game for the 10th time in program history and the first time since 2010. UNCG will face off against fourth-seeded Western Carolina in the title game at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday. The Catamounts knocked off top-seeded Furman 2-0 in the first semifinal game of the night. The championship game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with the winner earning the SoCon’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans and Catamounts played to a 2-2 double overtime tie earlier this season in Greensboro and will be meeting in the SoCon Final for the first time since 2008.
The victory improves the Spartans to 10-7-3 on the season and raises their winning streak to five-straight games while also improving to 5-0-1 in their last six games. The win also snaps Samford’s 13-game unbeaten streak, giving the Bulldogs their first loss since Sept. 3 and their first home loss since Aug. 27.
Rideout continued her inspired play of late, scoring both of the Spartans’ goals to help UNCG rally from a late one-goal deficit. She has scored six goals in the last three games and leads the team with seven goals on the season. Since the regular season finale, she has scored three goals against The Citadel, one goal against Chattanooga and now two goals against Samford and is the hottest goal scorer currently in the league.
Samford (13-6-2) looked poised to defend its home field late in the game as it scored the game’s first goal in the 67th minute of play. Two-time SoCon Player of the Year Jermaine Seoposenwe gave the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead as she scored on a shot from 20-yards out into the top corner past freshman goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper (Charlottesville, Va./Albermarle).
The Spartans responded to the deficit and started to take the attack to the Bulldogs. Just over five minutes later, the Spartans tied the game in the 73rd minute of play as Rideout continued her stellar play. Sophomore Grace Regal (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) found Rideout at the top of the 18-yard box and she was able to turn quickly, firing a shot into the top corner past Samford goalkeeper Anna Maddox tying the game at 1-1.
The game went into overtime as Tyler-Cooper and the Spartans’ defense kept the Bulldogs at bay down the stretch of regulation. UNCG was able to keep Samford off the scoreboard in the first overtime period and the game seemed headed for penalty kicks until some magic early in the second overtime period.
The Spartans won the ball in the midfield and senior defender Regan Lehman (Wilmington, Del./Padua Academy) made a long run to set the table for the Spartans. The ball eventually found its way to sophomore Emily Stump (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) who sent a high cross into the 18-yard box. Rideout took her first touch and lofted the ball over the head of Maddox and into the back of the goal sending the Spartans into a wild celebration with the sudden-victory goal.
Tyler-Cooper picked up her ninth win of the season as she posted 11 saves on the night. Her goal allowed to Samford is the first goal UNCG has surrendered since Oct. 6, snapping the Spartans’ shutout streak at 551:26.
-- UNCG --