AUGUSTA – No. 12 Columbus State scored two first half goals and sealed the contest with a third goal in the second half on their way to a 3-0 victory over No. 20 UNC Pembroke in a semifinal matchup in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. CSU improves to 18-1-1 on the year while the loss drops the Lady Braves to 15-3-2.
Stephanie Lowery hooked a free kick from the left side of the field, about 25-yards out and beat the UNCP goalkeeper high for an early 1-0 Lady Cougars lead in the 15th minute. The goal was Lowery's 18th of the season, tying her for the single-season record for goals scored in a season with Gina Goforth. She also overtook Goforth for the highest point total in a year with 41. The junior also leads the PBC in goals scored and points.
CSU continued to press forward adding a second goal late in the first half. Jackie Ellis took a shot just outside the penalty box, which UNCP goalkeeper Britney Bennett was unable to handle. Her and a teammate ran into each other to corral the ball and Emily Husted was able to run onto the loose ball and net home her fifth goal of the season.
Sheena Mature had a header off a UNCP corner kick that took a nice save by Willi Babillis to keep the Lady Braves off the board. The game went into the half at 2-0 with Columbus State holding a 9-2 advantage in shots while UNCP had a 4-1 edge in corner kicks.
The Lady Cougars were unable to capitalize on several threatening possessions deep in UNCP territory but finally were able to add an insurance goal to secure the victory. Leslie Mathews beat a defender and was 1v1 with Bennett. Mathews initial shot was denied by the goalkeeper but the rebound bounced back to her and she was able to score her third goal of the year.
Babillis picked up her 10th win of the year upping her mark to 10-0-1 making three saves in the game. Bennett denied 11 CSU shot attempts but fell to 14-3-2. Columbus State outshot UNCP 22-4 in the match but the Lady Braves had a corner kick advantage of 6-2. The shutout was the 15th of the season for CSU, one shy of tying the single-season mark set in 2007 and 2008.
Columbus State advances to the Peach Belt Conference finals for the fifth time in seven seasons. They will be looking to claim their fourth PBC Tournament championship when they take on North Georgia Sunday, November 7. The Lady Saints advanced to the finals defeating top seed Armstrong Atlantic State 3-1 in the other semifinal match. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. at field three at Blanchards Wood Park.