Spartans fall 2-1 to No. 7 seed Georgia Southern in SoCon quarters
For video of UNCG coach Steve Nugent's postgame comments, click here.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Seventh-seeded Georgia Southern got a tiebreaking goal from Sara Oland in the 85th minute as the Eagles eliminated second-seeded UNCG 2-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Conference Women's Soccer Championship at the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Sunday.
With the loss, UNCG finished the season with an 8-10-1 overall record and went 7-3-1 in SoCon play.
GSU (7-10-2) advances to the semifinals of the tournament next weekend, also in Greensboro. The Eagles will face third-seeded College of Charleston, a 3-0 winner over No. 6 seed Davidson on Sunday.
With the scored tied at 1 late in regulation, Oland collected a cross from Alex Murphy and fired a shot far post. The ball went off the hands of diving UNCG keeper Kelsey Kearney, off the left post and into the net to send the Eagles to the semifinals of the tournament for the first time since 2006.
"The first thing I want to do is congratulate Georgia Southern," UNCG coach Steve Nugent said. "They came in here and at the end of the day, they wanted it more than we did. In this game, the game of soccer, it doesn't matter what conference, it doesn't matter what level, if you meet up with a team that's more passionate than you, and you don't play or you don't match that intensity level, irrespective of how many combinations you get or how many looks at goal you get, sometimes that's not enough. Today it wasn't enough against Georgia Southern."
The Eagles drew first blood against the Spartans, with sisters McKenna and Carlee Storey teaming up in just the fourth minute. Carlee Storey sent a corner kick to the back of the 18-yard box that McKenna Storey headed into the lower right corner of the goal to give GSU the early lead.
The Spartans countered in the 21st minute to draw even. After Lauren Hein was taken down in the box, Casey Godwin converted the ensuing penalty kick to make it a 1-1 game. Godwin, a senior defender, scored just her second career goal in her final career contest.
UNCG had the run of play for much of the afternoon, outshooting the Eagles 13-6. The Spartans had three goals called back for various infractions, with Hein having one waved off for an offside violation and another for a handball in the first half. In the second half, Kristin Player also had a goal nullified after an offside call, wasting a beautiful combination of passes from Casey McCavitt to Hein to Player.
With just under five minutes remaining in the first half, senior Jaimey Etten fired a low blast from 25 yards out that GSU keeper Katie Merson was able to wrap up.
Late in regulation, Hein and Ashley Stokes just missed hooking up on a pair of nice crosses from Stokes, as both were just a step out of Hein's reach in front of the goal.
Player had UNCG's last chance in the waning seconds, getting off a shot in traffic that Merson was able to fall on and smother for the save.
Merson finished with five saves, while Kearney finished with one for the Spartans.
The contest was the final one in the careers of UNCG seniors Player, Godwin, Etten, Kearney, Nicole Danford and Alex Perry.
The loss snapped UNCG's nine-match winning streak over the Eagles, which included a 2-1 win in Statesboro, Ga., on Sept. 30 of this season.
UNCG's quarterfinal exit from the tournament was its first since 1999 – which, coincidentally, also came via a 2-1 loss to Georgia Southern in Greensboro. This year marks just the second time that UNCG did not reach the semifinals of the tournament since joining the league in 1997.
The semifinal round of the tournament begins at the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Friday at 5 p.m. with the second game slated for 7:30 that evening. The tournament final will be Sunday, Nov. 6, at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
Georgia Southern 2, UNCG 1
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Georgia Southern.... 1 1 - 2
UNCG................ 1 0 - 1
1. 3:46 GSU McKenna Storey (1) (Carlee Storey)
2. 20:53 UNCG Casey Godwin (1)
3. 84:01 GSU Sara Oland (4) (Alex Murphy)
Shots: Georgia Southern 6, UNCG 13; Saves: Georgia Southern 5 (Katie Merson 5), UNCG 1 (Kelsey Kearney 1); Corner kicks: Georgia Southern 3, UNCG 5; Fouls: Georgia Southern 10, UNCG 14
- UNCG -