Lady Cougars Headed to National Championship
CSU is providing a Fan Bus to Pensacola, FL to watch the game. The bus ride is FREE, however student admission to the game is $7, and general admission is $12. The bus will leave at 8 am tomorrow from the Lumpkin Center. Seating on the bus is limited, so please sign up asap by clicking here.
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Behind a pair of first half goals, the third-ranked Columbus State University women's soccer team took down fifth-ranked Bridgeport in the national semifinals on Thursday at the Brosnaham Soccer Complex.
With the victory, the Lady Cougars advance to Saturday's national championship match where they will take on top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Grand Valley State. GVSU defeated second-ranked Western Washington 3-2 in Thursday's second semifinal.
The win ups the season total to 22 for the Lady Cougars, breaking the program record of 21 previously done by the 2008 and 2014 teams.
"I'm super proud of this group, but we're not done yet," said head coach Jay Entlich. "We didn't come down here to come in second place. We want to make sure we don't stop — we haven't arrived. Hopefully, we're put on a performance Saturday like we did today."
It didn't take long for Columbus State (22-2-1) to get on the attack, earning a corner kick less than 90 seconds into the match.
Bridgeport (21-2-1) took the game's first three shots, but it was the Lady Cougars that controlled the first 45 minutes.
Mandy Janowitz nearly put CSU on the board first in the 14th minute, but her attempt slid just over the crossbar. The junior got another look less than four minutes later, but that one missed high as well.
Twenty-one minutes into the match, redshirt-senior Chelsea Person did what she has done for the Lady Cougars all season long: set up a scoring opportunity.
Person took Columbus State's second corner kick of the match and sailed it into the box. The ball was knocked down in front of the net and Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Olivia Jarrell tapped it over the goalline to put the Lady Cougars in front.
The goal was the 17th of the season for the St. Augustine, Fla. native and ties her with Stephanie Parrish in 2007 for the highest goal total by a Lady Cougar freshman in program history.
Columbus State would continue to attack the Bridgeport net, getting six shots off over the next 17 minutes before striking again.
Junior midfielder Atalia Ramirez subbed onto the pitch at the 36-minute mark and made an instant impact. Person once again helped set the play up, driving down the right side before dribbling into the box. Person then slid the ball across the 18 where Ramirez ripped a blast past the keeper and into the left side of the net.
The goal was just the second of the season for Ramirez and upped Person's assist total to 16, tying her for the national lead.
"If you're going to work for the girl next to you, then she's going to put the ball in the back of the net for you," Person said. "If you get a chance to get in, then give it your all. That was the game plan and I think we were able to execute that today."
The Lady Cougars took the 2-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, just 45 minutes away from a national championship appearance.
Bridgeport came out strong to start the second half, requiring Maylyn Parsonsto make strong plays in net for CSU. The junior goalkeeper was more than up to the task though keeping the Knights off the board during the stretch.
In the 64th minute, Columbus State found the net again, this time with a little assist from the Purple Knights.
Person worked her way down the left flank and into the box looking for a place to play a cross. The senior's cross deflected off a Bridgeport defender and into the net to give the Lady Cougars a 3-0 edge.
Bridgeport finally broke through in the 88th minute, getting its only goal of the afternoon, but the game was already decided by that moment.