UNA soccer falls short in conference championship

The soccer team got off to a slow start, and was unable to recover against Valdosta State University in the Gulf South Conference championship losing 3-0 Nov. 9 in Pensacola, Florida.

UNA (14-3-1) gave up its first goal just 4:08 into the game, ending the streak of seven straight shutouts by the Lions. The Blazer scored again at the 32:03 mark and took a 2-0 lead into halftime.

“We just weren’t ready to get going, and when they scored early it called us off guard and we panicked,” said coach Chris Walker. “We just can’t afford to have eight or nine players to not play well at this point in the season.”

The Lions controlled the ball more in the second half but could not turn their chances into points. The Blazers finally put the game away with another goal in the 78th minute.

“We had a good talk at halftime to try and fire them up,” Walker said. “Valdosta defended well and they just don’t concede goals.”

The loss snapped an eight-game win streak for UNA. The Lions last loss was also against Valdosta State, where the Blazers won 1-0 Oct. 3.

“If we play them again Friday we will come out with a higher tempo and I can guarantee you we will beat this team,” said senior goalkeeper Rachel Beninati. “We match up well with this team and it’s just a matter of showing up to play.”

The Lions were the No.1 seed in the GSC tournament and defeated the University of West Alabama 1-0 Nov. 7 to advance to the championship game.

Senior defender Ellis Hillman, sophomore midfielder Stacey Webber and freshman defender Allie Urbanek were named to the GSC All-Tournament team.

The Lions find out whom their next opponent is Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. when the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament Selection Show announces the playoff schedule.