EVANS, GA – The Columbus State Cougars won their fourth Peach Belt Conference women’s soccer tournament championship with a 4-2 win over a scrappy North Georgia team on Saturday at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga. Columbus State, who also won titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008, improves to 19-1-1 on the season and earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
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
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.
North Georgia scrambled, but could not find a way to cut into the lead but became only the third team this season to score more than one goal against the CSU defense. The two goals scored in the championship game were the only two Columbus State allowed in the entire tournament, and defensive mainstay Ashton Ziadie was named the tournament most valuable player for the Cougars. Joining her on the All-Tournament team from Columbus State were Stephanie Lowery, Kate Walton and Catherine Lovin. North Georgia’s Jessica English, Natalie Douglass, and Lauren Schenk were also named All-Tournament.
Columbus State, who was the top-ranked team in the Southeast Region in the latest NCAA poll, will host first-round action in next week’s NCAA Tournament. North Georgia will have to wait for Monday night’s announcement to see if they have earned one of the three at-large bids available. The NCAA will make their tournament announcement with a live webcast at 7:00 pm on Monday via NCAA.com.
2010 Women’s Soccer
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 Douglas, North Georgia
Lauren Schenck, North Georgia
Stephanie Lowery, Columbus State
Kate Walton, Columbus State
Catherine Lovin, Columbus State
Ashton Ziadie, Columbus State