CHARLESTON, SC – Although it ended much too soon, the run made by the second-year Western Carolina Lady Catamount soccer team was very inspiring. Battling as the underdog, as well as through injury, the Lady Cats represented Western Carolina very well.
WCU upset third-seeded Georgia Southern 3-1 on Friday before falling in the semifinals to eventual conference champion UNC Greensboro on Saturday.
In Saturday’s second round match-up, the Lady Cats (11-8-2) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on the second-seeded UNC Greensboro Spartans, but two second half goals were the difference as they Cats fell 3-1. “The girls played with a lot of heart today,” said head coach Debbie Hensley. “We had a great season and this was just an awesome way to top it off. I could not be more proud of the team.”
Nardia Moore, who was named to the SoCon All-tournament team, scored the games first goal from 30 yards out, giving WCU a short-lived 1-0 lead.
UNCG responded with one first-half goal and two late in the second to seal the victory. The Spartans out shot Western Carolina 16-6.
On Friday, the Lady Cats picked up their first conference tournament win in its two-year history by upsetting the number-three seeded Georgia Southern Lady Eagles,3-1.
“This was a huge win for our program,” said Hensley. “The girls came out today ready to compete and they played like champions from the first whistle to the last.”
Freshman Lauren Bramlett tallied the first-goal scored in the post season for WCU, giving Western Carolina the early 1-0 lead. Moore had the assist. Moore showed that she deserved the honor bestowed on her by the Southern Conference when she beat GSU goalkeeper one-on-one, finding the back of the net giving WCU a 2-0 first-half lead.
The Lady Eagles turned up the intensity in the second half, playing much more physical and offensive-minded, peppering WCU goalkeeper Mandi Tinsley with eight second-stanza shots. Tinsley finished with nine saves in the winning effort. “Mandi saved us a couple of times today and was just excellent in goal,” said Hensley of her sophomore net minder.
“This win was good for the team because we wanted to make a statement in this tournament,” said Tinsley.
Sophomore Megan Doherty iced the win with three seconds left in the game when she beat the second GSU keeper from about 20 yards out.