Lions lose heart-breaker in GSC Championship

(Courtesy RoarLions.com)

PENSACOLA, Fla.– After 110 minutes of play and eight rounds of penalty kicks, the University of North Alabama and University of West Florida remained even in the quest for the 2010 Gulf South Conference Women’s Soccer Championship. The Lions ninth penalty shot went wide and West Florida freshman Alexis Pugh put her attempt in the net to give the Argonauts their third straight GSC title and an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Division II South Region Tournament.

Regulation play ended in a 2-2 tie and neither team scored in the two 10-minute overtime periods. Each team only scored twice in the first five rounds of penalty kicks and play continued into the ninth round before UWF pulled out the win,

North Alabama, playing in the GSC Championship Game for the second straight year, trailed 1-0 at intermission but tied the match in the 69th minute off a goal from Jo Chubb. Chloe Roberts assisted on Chubb’s fourth goal of the year and it evened the match at 1-1 at the 68:37 mark.

West Florida went back on top at 77:57 when Alexis Garrand scored off an assist from Shakira Duncan. The Argonauts appeared on their way to the win in regulation but Roberts put the ball in the net for UNA with just 33 seconds remaining in in the second period to tie it at 2-2. It was Roberts’ 28th goal of the season.

UNA’s Nikki Brown and Chloe Roberts made their penalty kicks for the Lions and it was tied 2-2 when North Alabama’s Hollie Loud was stopped by Ryan in the fifth round. That put Duncan, the 2009 Division II National Player of the Year and 2010 GSC Player of the Year, on the line for the Argonauts with a chance for the win. UNA’s McLay made her third save of the penalty kick round to stop Duncan and keep the Lions’ hopes alive.

Both teams made their penalty kicks in rounds six and seven and both failed to score in the eighth round. McLay made another remarkable save on Rachel Cutts attempt in the eighth round to keep UNA alive.

In the ninth round UNA’s Beth Spurr missed wide right and Pugh was able to out the ball in the net for West Florida for the win.

UNA is now 16-3-1 overall and must wait to see if it will be extended a second straight NCAA Tournament bid. Despite having the second best record in the South Region, the Lions have received little respect from the regional ranking committee this fall, ranking ninth in the region entering the GSC Tournament. The top six teams in the final regional ranking will advance to the South Region Tournament.

UNA was out-shot 29-18 in the match. McLay finished regulation play with 10 saves for UNA.

McLay was named to the All-GSC Tournament team, along with teammates Jo Chubb, Julia Osmond and Chloe Roberts.

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