GREENVILLE, S.C. – The legend of Stephanie DeVita continued to grow Friday, as the Southern Conference’s career goals leader scored the tying goal in the 83rd minute and the game-winner with just five seconds left in the match to lift No. 2 seed Furman past No. 3 seed UNCG 2-1 in the semifinals of the SoCon Women’s Soccer Championship at Eugene Stone III Stadium. The Paladins will face No. 4 seed Mercer on Sunday in the title match.
Furman and Mercer will square off at 1 p.m. in a contest that will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Pete Yanity and Charlie Slagle will have the call.
With the score tied at 1 and overtime seeming imminent, DeVita took control of the ball about 25 yards out with 10 seconds left on the clock. The senior from Simpsonville, S.C., took a few touches toward goal and chipped a shot from 20 yards that grazed the crossbar on the way down and found the back of the net for her 28th career game-winner and 67th career goal, extending her own league record.
The goal capped a stunning comeback for the Paladins (16-4-1), who trailed for virtually the entire game after UNCG’s Chesney White put the Spartans (9-9-3) up 1-0 in the 11th minute of play. White made a nice run on to a Candice Forbes cross and hammered it home from the left side to put UNCG in control early.
DeVita, a two-time SoCon Player of the Year, played the hero twice in the match, first tying the score at the 82:14 mark when she headed home a Rachel Shah corner kick.
That breathed new life into the Paladins, who advanced to the final for the league-record 13th time and third time in four seasons. Furman last won the title in 2013.
The wild finish capped an exciting, physical match that featured a combined 21 shots and 25 fouls.
UNCG had a couple of good chances to extend its lead early in the second half. Just minutes after intermission, Forbes got off a shot in the box that Furman keeper Maggie Grisell was able to punch away. White chased down the rebound and fired from the top of the box, but a Furman defender was there to block the shot and thwart the scoring chance.
DeVita nearly leveled the game in the first half off a set piece. With 17 minutes left before the break, Carlie Couch was fouled outside the box to set up free kick. DeVita lined up beside UNCG wall, and Kristen Baker played a quick pass to her before the Spartan defense could get fully set. DeVita spun and fired an inward-swinging shot that went just wide, leaving it a 1-0 game in UNCG’s favor.
With two goals on the night, DeVita upped her season total to a SoCon-best 17 on the year. She now has 157 career points, just four back of the SoCon record held by Georgia Southern’s Tara Chaisson.
Grisell stopped four shots on the night to improve to 15-2-1 on the year, while UNCG’s Chloe Buehler made six saves and fell to 9-9-3.
Furman and Mercer will be meeting in the tournament for the second straight season, as the Bears took a 3-2 win over the Paladins in the semifinals last year en route to winning their first SoCon tournament title. Furman claimed this season’s regular-season meeting 1-0 on Oct. 25.
2015 SoCon Women’s Soccer Championship
Oct. 28 (Wednesday)
First round (at higher seeds)
Match 1: No. 9 VMI 0, No. 8 Chattanooga 0 (2OT, VMI advances in PKs, 3-2)
Match 2: No. 7 Wofford 3, No. 10 The Citadel 0
Oct. 31 (Saturday)
Quarterfinal round (at higher seeds)
Match 3: No. 1 Samford 3, No. 9 VMI 0
Match 4: No. 4 Mercer 3, No. 5 ETSU 2
Match 6: No. 3 UNCG 3, No. 6 Western Carolina 1
Nov. 1 (Sunday)
Quarterfinal round (at higher seed)
Match 5: No. 2 Furman 3, No. 7 Wofford 0
Nov. 6 (Friday)
Semifinals (Eugene Stone III Soccer Stadium; Greenville, S.C.)
Match 7: No. 1 Samford 1, No. 4 Mercer 1 (2OT, Mercer advances in PKs, 4-3)
Match 8: No. 2 Furman 2, No. 3 UNCG 1
Nov. 8 (Sunday)
Final (Eugene Stone III Soccer Stadium; Greenville, S.C.)
Match 9: No. 4 Mercer vs. No. 2 Furman, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
All times Eastern.