No. 5 Columbus State Women’s Soccer Wins PBC Tournament
Augusta, Ga. – An early strike again proved to be the difference as the No. 5 Columbus State University women's soccer team beat No. 16 North Georgia 1-0 to win the Peach Belt Conference tournament championship. The decisive match was played at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga.
The tournament title is the fifth in the 11-year history of the Lady Cougar soccer program and the first since 2010. The win also gives Columbus State (19-0-1) both an outright regular season and tournament championship for the first time since 2009.
North Georgia (16-4-1) provided early fireworks as Sydney Reeder's fifth-minute strike hit the crossbar. CSU responded with a chance of its own in the ninth minute, but Cassandra Wade's shot was saved by Mallory Sayre.
It was the 12th minute when the Lady Cougars broke through. Ashley Miller wired a pass through the UNG defense to the foot of Nicole Corcione, who rocketed the ball off the left post and into the back of the net.
The goal was Corione's eighth of the season and another early dagger for the Lady Cougars against the Nighthawks. CSU previously beat UNG 1-0 on October 22 after Kelsey Pelletier scored three minutes into the match.
The next 78 minutes then became a staring contest between the goalkeepers, Maylyn Parsons and Mallory Sayre. With so much on the line, neither was determined to blink.
Just half a minute after the Columbus State goal, North Georgia's Sophia Matonak unleashed a shot on goal, forcing Parsons to make her third save. Parsons made another stop in the 25th minute. Most dramatically, the Greenville, S.C. native got in front of a strike from Jessi Vaverka with one second remaining in the first half.
Sayre showed off her mitts in the 37th minute by denying Tori Hood of a scoring opportunity.
The chess match continued as the second half marched on. In this frame, the crossbar would prove to be the Lady Cougars' friend just as much as Parsons. A 52nd-minute chance by Mollie Arrendale met the woodwork, and Rachel Vanhorn couldn't get her header below the beam nine minutes later.
The teams traded chances throughout the final 45 minutes with each side getting a last gasp in with under five minutes to go. Corcione bid for a second goal in the 87th minute but was denied by Sayre, while the Nighthawks' last gasp off Jacy Ramey's foot met Parsons' gloves in the 88th.
The tension in the air was lifted with the final buzzer and the Lady Cougars could celebrate a PBC tournament championship, for many of the older players their first taste of ultimate conference glory.
Maylyn Parsons finished the match with six saves as the sophomore and All-PBC first-teamer pitched her 10th shutout of the season. Her counterpart Mallory Sayre also finished with six saves in the tough-luck loss.
North Georgia outshot Columbus State 17-15 on the afternoon.
Next up for Columbus State is the NCAA tournament next weekend. CSU will find out its NCAA tournament opponent and location during the selection show, scheduled for Monday night at 7:00 p.m. The first round begins on Friday, November 14.