GREENSBORO, N.C. - The College of Charleston women's soccer team impressed as it took down Georgia Southern by a 4-2 count to advance to the Southern Conference Women's Soccer Championship at UNCG Soccer Stadium on Friday evening.
The third-seeded Cougars will see number-one seed Samford on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. The championship match will be broadcast on ESPN3 with Darren Goldwater and Charlie Slagle on the call.
The Cougars took a 3-0 first-half lead and held off the Eagles' comeback effort in the second to claim their program-record 13th win of the season.
The Cougars outshot Georgia Southern, 17-7 and put 12 shots on the goal frame. CofC got goals out of Alli Brashear (Brunswick, Ga.), Francesca Kentimenos (Stony Point, N.Y.) and Hannah Gmerek (Anderson, S.C.).
"First of all, our hats are off to Georgia Southern," said head coach Christian Michner. "Those kids fought like crazy. We're excited to be moving on. I'm proud of my team's performance all the way around. There were a couple testy moments when they scored a couple of quick goals there. We handled the adversity and pressure really well and are certainly looking forward to coming back and playing for a championship on Sunday."
The early moments of the match flowed evenly from end to end until the Cougars snatched a 15th minute goal developed by a long, 35-yard throw into the box by Katie Kerr (Cincinnati, Ohio). Maryam Buazza (Katy, Texas) got her head to the ball first and flicked it through the crowd to Brashear who booted the ball past helpless Eagle keeper Katie Merson.
Not content with the one-goal lead, the Cougars remained heavy on the attack and took a 5-0 shot advantage over the next 20 minutes. The Cougars nearly netted a second when Gmerek sent in a corner kick and McCallie Jones (Charlotte, N.C.) and Buazza both took shots on goal that were thwarted by defenders standing on the goal line.
Moments later, the Cougars would not be denied when Jones collected a ball on the left side of the field and centered it to Kentimenos who blasted a shot into the top-right corner from 22 yards away to give the Cougars the 2-0 lead in the 37th minute.
Just over five minutes later, Gmerek dispossessed an Eagle defender in the box and found herself one-on-one with Merson and tucked the ball into the left-side netting for the 3-0 edge.
After dominating the first period the Cougars went into the break leading 11-1 in shots and 9-0 in shots on goal.
The Eagles came out of the locker room with a charge and netted their first goal on just their second shot of the match when Paige Grant took a free kick from 40 yards away and hammered a deceiving ball just under the crossbar and into the net in the 58th minute.
Just 70 seconds later, the Eagles cut the lead again with some clever passing in the box resulting in Courtney Collins having a free look at goal.
Gmerek quieted the Eagle charge when she intercepted a failed Eagle clearance attempt and crushed a shot into the most-extreme upper-right corner of the goal from 24 yards away.
The fourth goal stilled the wind in Georgia Southern's sails but the Eagles refused to go quietly. Cougar goalkeeper Cricket Wise (Walhalla, S.C.) made a couple big-time saves down the stretch to preserve the 4-2 lead and get the Cougars to the finals.