Lions shut out Statesmen, secure top conference seed

The UNA soccer team defeated the Delta State Statesmen 3-0 Sunday afternoon to improve its record to 14-2-1 overall and 10-2 in the Gulf South Conference.

UNA controlled the match, keeping possession away from the Statesmen for most of the game.

UNA scored its first goal in the 25th minute when senior Chloe Richards took a free kick from about 40 yards out. The conference leader in goals struck the ball past the keeper on the left side of the net, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.

“Any time we have a free kick around the box, we have confidence in (Richards),” said head coach Chris Walker. “It was 40 yards out, and no one’s stopping that. It’s not the first time she’s done that, and hopefully not the last.”

UNA’s next goal came in the second half, as junior Stacey Webber’s cross found the head of freshman Kylie Huey. The goal was Huey’s seventh of the season.

In the 88th minute, junior Ele Costello scored off an assist from freshman Paige Porter. Costello’s goal put the Lions up 3-0, capping the scoring and sealing the win.

“(Delta State) is always a tough game,” Richards said. “Delta State had nothing to lose today. We had everything to lose, so it was just one of those games we had to get through.”

The win locked up the Lions as the No. 1 seed in the GSC tournament, which UNA will host the semifinals and finals of the conference championship Nov. 6 and 8.

“(Hosting the tournament) was one of our goals going into this year,” Walker said. “The girls have worked hard. All the returners and the freshmen have stepped up. Hopefully we can keep it going, but it’s nice to host.”

The game was UNA’s last home match of the regular season. UNA honored its two seniors, defender Melanie Leonida and forward Chloe Richards, before today’s match.

“It was great to get the win and win the regular season,” Leonida said. “Now we get to host the conference tournament. That’s more important to me than senior night. It’s about the team and how well we’ve done this season and how far we’re going to go.”

The winner of West Georgia and West Alabama Nov. 3 will be the Lions’ next opponent in the GSC tournament Nov. 6.