No. 1 seed Furman 2, No. 4 seed Samford 0
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Carlie Couch scored in the first half and Jamie Alexander in the second as top-seeded Furman topped No. 4 seed Samford in Friday’s first semifinal of the Southern Conference Women’s Soccer Championship at Wofford’s Snyder Field, 2-0. With the win, the Paladins will make their second straight finals appearance and 12th overall.
Furman (16-3-2) will take on either No. 2 seed Elon (13-2-6) on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN3 with Darren Goldwater and Charlie Slagel on the call.
Furman got the scoring started in the eighth minute as the last two SoCon freshmen of the year connected on the first goal of the game. Stephanie DeVita, the 2012 winner, sent a pass to Couch, this season’s top rookie, on the right flank. Couch then deposited her 12th goal of the season to the far post to give the Paladins the early advantage.
With just over 11 minutes left in the first half, Samford (13-6-2) had its best opportunity of the frame when Hallie Georgi found Malcanisha Kelley in stride for a one-on-one with Furman keeper Rose Hull. Hull came off her line and smothered Kelley’s attempt from 15 yards out to keep the Bulldogs off the board.
Alexander made it a 2-0 game shortly after halftime, blasting a shot from about 20 yards out that Samford keeper Melissa Montgomery got hands on but couldn’t corral in the 48th minute. Montgomery appeared to make the stop, but the ball squirted through her hands and she couldn’t keep it out of the back of the net despite a diving effort after it. DeVita picked up her second assist of the night on the play.
After getting off just six shots in the first half, Samford rattled off 13 in the second frame but saw several dangerous opportunities go begging.
In the 69th minute, Michelle Moll sent in a long-distance line drive that just missed the upper right 90. Minutes later, Sara Smeltzer collected a Shanika Thomas corner kick and sent a low liner just wide of the far post.
Samford had another good scoring chance thwarted in the 76th minute, when Trine Taule’s shot off a Jordan Johnson corner kick was blocked and cleared after a scrum in the box.
Furman had an outstanding chance to pad its lead with 13 minutes left, as Couch got loose on a breakaway. Samford keeper Dale Steinagle, who come on after Montgomery’s miscue, came off her line to snuff the opportunity with the close-range save.
Samford had one last solid scoring chance, as Molly Pittman put a header on frame in the 80th minute, but Hull backpedaled and punched the ball over the crossbar for the save.
Hull finished with seven saves for her seventh shutout of the season. She improved to 12-1-1 on the year.
Montgomery and Steinagle finished with two saves each, with Montgomery allowing both goals to fall to 6-3-2.
Samford finished with a 19-10 shot advantage and an 8-2 edge in corner kicks.
No. 2 seed Elon 1, No. 6 seed Wofford 0
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Elon’s Catherine Brinkman scored in the 54th minute to lift the second-seeded Phoenix past No. 6 seed Wofford in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Women’s Soccer Championship at the Terriers’ Snyder Field on Friday, 1-0. With the win, Elon advances to the title match for the first time in school history.
The Phoenix (13-2-6) will face No. 1 seed Furman (16-3-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m. with a trip to the NCAA Championship on the line. The match will air live on ESPN3 with Darren Goldwater and Charlie Slagel on the call.
After a scoreless first half that saw the sides combine for just three shots, Elon opened things up offensively in the second stanza and broke through with the only goal it would need at the 53:22 mark. Brinkman broke up the shutout with an unassisted, booming shot from 25 yards out, smoking the ball into the far right 90.
Brinkman had narrowly missed putting the Phoenix on top just moments earlier, as Jennifer McCorty found her in stride with a nice ball that split two defenders inside the 18-yard box. From about 8 yards out, Brinkman’s sliding attempt went just high.
The Clearwater, Fla., senior had a chance to add an insurance goal in the 87th minute but missed her penalty kick attempt high. With Elon nursing its one-goal lead, SoCon Player of the Year Nicole Dennion was taken down inside the 18-yard box to earn the spot kick.
The first half saw little activity on the offensive end for either team. Elon’s Olivia Mackey pushed a shot wide in the sixth minute, while Erin Tanhauser had an attempt blocked in the 32nd. Wofford earned its only attempt in the 37th minute, when Alex Kachulis nodded a Maggie Bosley corner kick wide of the goal.
The offensive intensity picked up in the second frame, with each team taking six shots. Wofford created the pressure early, with Mary Beth Bleekrode forcing a save from Kate Murphy and Kachulis putting a shot high within the first four minutes.
Elon grabbed the momentum with Brinkman’s flurry, and Mackey and Dennion forced saves from Kimberly Cohn later in the half.
Wofford’s last good scoring chance came in the 84th minute, but Kachulis’ attempt went wide.
Sydney Branson and Murphy combined on the shutout for the Phoenix, playing a half each. Murphy picked up the only Elon save of the contest and earned the win to improve to 9-0-4.
Cohn made three stops for the Terriers but took the loss to fall to 8-2-6 on the season.
2013 SoCon Women’s Soccer Championship
Semifinals, Friday, Nov. 8
Semifinal 1: No. 1 seed Furman 2, No. 4 seed Samford 0
Semifinal 2: No. 2 seed Elon 1, No. 6 seed Wofford 0
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 10
No. 1 seed Furman vs. No. 2 seed Elon, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)