Overtime header gives Lions non-conference victory

Junior defender Alyssa Bova reaches for the ball. The girls defeated Cumberland 2-1 on Sunday, Sept. 27.

UNA defeated the Cumberland Bulldogs 2-1 Sunday afternoon in extra time.

UNA held a 1-0 lead for most of the game until a Cumberland goal forced overtime with under a minute to go in regulation. A header by senior defender Melanie Leonida clinched the win and helped the Lions remain undefeated.

Fouls plagued both teams, as neither team had a chance to get into a rhythm.

“I don’t want to blame the officials, but momentum was killed every two seconds,” said head coach Chris Walker. “It was just call after call after call, but you get that from time to time.”

Junior forward Stacy Webber scored her first goal of the season to give UNA a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute. The Lions took the lead into halftime.

Sluggish play by UNA continued into the second half.

“We’ve been finding it hard to liven up during games,” Leonida said. “I think we got a bit complacent and let them come at us. It gave them a lot of confidence.”

Goalkeeper Shelby Thornton, who finished with seven saves, kept the Bulldogs off the board for most of the game with some great blocks. However, in the waning seconds of the game, Cumberland’s Savannah Keele managed to sneak one past Thornton for the equalizer.

“I think we were in control for most of the game,” Walker said. “With a minute to go, we shut off a little bit and had to go to overtime.”

Two minutes into extra time, Ele Costello’s corner found Leonida, who headed it in for the game-winning goal.

“That’s my first goal of the season and the first goal I’ve had in a few years,” Leonida said. “We work on that in practice all the time, so it was great to put what we practice on the field.”

 The win improves the No. 17 Lions to 7-0-1 on the season. UNA travels back into conference play against Valdosta State Oct. 2.