MACON, Ga. – No. 2 seed UNCG and No. 5 seed Furman each won semifinal matches at the Southern Conference Women’s Soccer Championship at Mercer’s Betts Stadium on Friday and will square off in Sunday’s title game at 2 p.m.
Behind two goals from freshman Isabella Gutierrez, the No. 5-seeded Furman Paladins upset No. 1-seeded Samford 2-0 in Friday night’s semifinal of the Southern Conference Women’s Soccer Championship. Gutierrez put the first goal on the board in the 80th minute, sending a dribbler past Samford’s first-team all-conference goalkeeper Stephanie Westway. Less than three minutes later, Gutierrez added an insurance goal, her second of the game and sixth of the season, to extend the Paladins’ lead to 2-0. The Statesboro, Georgia, native sent the ball deep, finding the back of the net and netting her third game-winner of the season.
Samford, the No. 1 seed thanks to an 8-0-1 regular-season conference mark, had its best look of the game in the 33rd minute when Furman junior goalkeeper Kellsey Weaver punched away Erin Bonner’s header off of a corner kick. Weaver, helped out by a stingy backline, finished with six saves and earned her fifth shutout of the season. Samford finished with a 13-11 edge in shots, though both teams had six shots on goal.
The win, which avenged a 1-0 loss in the regular season, sends the Paladins to the SoCon Championship final for the first time since 2016, when Furman defeated Mercer to win its sixth tournament title. Furman is the lowest seed to reach the championship since Georgia Southern, the No. 8 seed, beat No. 3 Furman in penalty kicks in 2012. Samford’s season ends at 12-6-1.
MACON, Ga. – The UNCG Spartans, the No. 2 seed, had goals from four different players, including two from SoCon Player of the Year Cienna Rideout, and downed No. 3-seed ETSU 5-1 in the second semifinal match. SoCon Freshman of the Year Nicole Souply started the scoring with a goal in the 19th minute. Souply’s go-ahead goal game on a header off of a corner kick from Ashton Duty. With a minute and a half left in the first half of play, UNCG added another goal, this time off the foot of Grace Regal off a pass from Carolina Fiorella.
Just minutes into the second half of action, the Spartans tacked on another goal as Jordin Moseley’s shot found the back of the net on a pass from Kaley Tucker. In the 67th minute, Rideout scored her first of the game on a missile from outside the box and extended the Spartans’ lead to four. Less than two minutes later, ETSU got on the board as Allie Duggan scored her first goal on the season. Duggan collected the rebound off an Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper save and sent it past the goalkeeper. Rideout added her second goal of the game and team-high 14th of the season in the 79th minute on a penalty kick to push the lead to 5-1.
ETSU goalkeeper Lea Ann Cutshall finished with five saves while Tyler-Cooper recorded four in the win. The Spartans outshot the Bucs 18-11.
The Spartans make an appearance in the final for the second straight season and look to defend their 2017 title. In total, UNCG has won eight SoCon women’s soccer championships, the most of any conference team, while Furman is close behind with six.
In the regular-season matchup, UNCG beat Furman 1-0 in Greensboro on Oct. 5.
2018 Women's Soccer Championship
Wednesday, Oct. 24
First Round (at higher seeds)
Match 1: No. 9 The Citadel 3, No. 8 Wofford 2
Match 2: No 10 VMI 1, No. 7 Chattanooga 0
Saturday, Oct. 27 Quarterfinals (at higher seeds)
Match 3: No. 1 Samford 1, No. 9 The Citadel 0
Match 4: No. 5 Furman 1, No. 4 Western Carolina 0
Match 5: No. 2 UNCG 3, No. 10 VMI 2
Sunday, Oct. 28
Match 6: No. 3 ETSU 1, No. 6 Mercer 0
Friday, Nov. 2 Semifinals (Betts Stadium; Macon, Ga.)
Match 7: No. 5 Furman 2, No. 1 Samford 0
Match 8: No. 2 UNCG 5, No. 3 ETSU 1
Sunday, Nov. 4 Final (Betts Stadium; Macon, Ga.)
Match 9: No. 5 Furman vs. No. 2 UNCG, 2 p.m.
*all times Eastern