GREENSBORO, N.C. – Lauren Lopez scored off a free kick with 16 seconds remaining in regulation for the only goal of the match as UNC Greensboro topped Davidson, 1-0, to claim its third consecutive Southern Conference women's soccer regular-season title Sunday afternoon.
UNCG's win, coupled with Western Carolina's 2-1 loss at home to Samford, gave the Spartans (14-4-1, 9-0-1 SoCon) their third consecutive outright regular season crown. It is the first time in 15 years of Southern Conference women's soccer that a team has won three straight crowns outright. Furman won five straight regular season titles from 1999 through 2003. However, the Paladins shared the 2001 crown with UNCG and Western Carolina.
The Spartans are now unbeaten in their last 30 Southern Conference regular-season matches. UNCG has not lost a regular-season conference match since Oct. 30, 2005, in a 4-3 double-overtime setback at Furman. Coincidentally, the Spartans will close out the regular season at Elon on Thursday night – Oct. 30 – with a chance to go unbeaten for three consecutive conference slates. UNCG is 28-0-2 in that span, going 9-0-1 in 2006 and a perfect 10-0-0 in 2007.
A matchup of two teams that had already clinched home quarterfinal round games for next Sunday, the game was well-played throughout. With 40 seconds to play, a foul was called that appeared to be just inside of the box. However, the official ruled that contact took place just outside the 18-yard line to give UNCG a free kick. The clock continued to run as Davidson set up its five-person wall.
On the restart, Kristin Player touched to Kelly Attayek, who quickly touched as Lopez came forward. The junior from Concord, N.C., hooked the ball into the top left corner, just inside the near post, to give UNCG the only goal of the match and Lopez's second of the season.
"We just wanted to come out and play well for the seniors today," said Lopez. "Davidson is a real strong squad. I think we did a good job of sticking to our game this afternoon against them."
The shots in the match were even at 8-8. UNCG had an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks, but could not capitalize on them. Jessie Baxa had five saves for Davidson (9-5-3, 7-3-0), while freshman Kelsey Kearney had four saves to earn her eight shutout of the season, fifth-most in school history and the most by a UNCG freshman.
UNCG closes out the season at Elon on Thursday in a 7 pm match.
Score by periods
Scoring: UNCG – Lopez (Player, Attayek) 89:44. Shots: Davidson 8, UNCG 8. Saves: Davidson 5 (Baxa 5), UNCG 4 (Kearney 4). Corner kicks: Davidson 1, UNCG 8. Fouls: Davidson 10, UNCG 5.
- UNCG -