Lady Braves, Montevallo To Battle In Opening Round Of PBC Tournament
PEMBROKE – Days removed from turning in one of its best regular season finishes in the history of the program, the UNCP women's soccer team will continue its run in the postseason as the 21st-ranked and third-seeded Lady Braves host sixth-seeded Montevallo in the opening round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Tuesday at Varsity Grounds. Kick off has been set for 6 p.m.
Admission prices to the event are $5 for adults and $3 for students, senior citizens and children 17 years of age and younger. The first 100 UNCP students with a valid Braves card will be admitted free.
The Lady Braves (14-2-2) have captured wins in each of their two previous meetings with Montevallo (6-10-2) including a 1-0 win over the Falcons earlier this season in Pembroke. In that contest, the Black and Gold used a 22nd minute goal by Rebecca Womack, as well as a three-save shutout by goalkeeper Britney Bennett, to stretch its unbeaten streak out to four games.
"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Montevallo because they have shown it doesn't matter what seed they are going into this tournament. It is all about the heart and the desire to win," said UNCP head coach Lars Andersson.
Unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 outings, the Lady Braves are led offensively by sophomore Anna Svensson who leads the league in both points (36) and goals (16), while also ranking first on the team with 52 shots. Svensson has a phenomenal supporting cast, however, that has accounted for a combined 21 goals, including Womack who has registered a career-best seven goals this season to go along with four assists. Senior Faye Corbett has already matched a career-best this season with eight assists, including three game-winning assists.
But, even with all the offensive superlatives this season, the Lady Braves have rode a defense that has surrendered just 11.5 shots and 0.44 goals per game in 2010. Starting defenders Karmi Dagnachew, Fanny Forsman, Jenessa Mikolowski and Brittany Padilla have laid the groundwork for the success of three-time PBC Goalkeeper of the Week Britney Bennett who leads the conference in goals against average (0.38), save percentage (.928) and shutouts (8). Bennett's save percentage ranks eighth nationally as well.
"It is amazing when we sit back and reflect on how much we rely on our goalkeeper and we must remember she is a freshman not a seasoned player," Andersson said. "She is a talented goalkeeper who has gotten progressively better and she has experienced players in front of her working as a unit to help the team work towards the common goal - winning. "
Forwards Christine Prince (7 goals) and Asgerdur Palsdottir (5) have combined to register more than half of the scoring output for Montevallo this season, while also accounting for 50 percent of the Falcons' game-winning tallies as well. Alyssa Maxwell has handled a bulk of the duties on the end line for Montevallo, amassing 78 saves and a 1.85 goals against average in 14 starts. The Falcons have produced nearly 14 shots per game this season, while also posting one of the league's highest foul totals as well.
The winner of Tuesday evening's game in Pembroke will advance to play the winner of the first round contest between seventh-seeded Lander and Second-seeded Columbus State in Friday's semifinal round. Kickoff for that contest has been set for 5 p.m. at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga.