Lions Defeat Blazers in first round of NCAA south regional

by Staff Writer Matt Wilson

Morgan Grace and the Lion defense held off a late surge from the Valdosta State Blazers as UNA came away Nov. 9 with a 1-0 win in the first round of the NCAA south regional in Pensacoloa, Fla.

Grace came up with five saves on her way to recording a clean sheet, which proved to be the difference in the end.

“I know that I’m the last line of defense, and when it comes to me, I want to make the girls happy,” Grace said. “When the ball comes in, I just want to get it out and not let anything happen.”

Jennifer Osmond scored the only goal of the game in the second half from a corner kick.  Chloe Roberts sent the ball into the box where Melanie Leonida was able to redirect it toward the net. After a scramble in front of the VSU goal, Osmond stepped in and put UNA up 1-0.

Valdosta State kept the pressure on for the remaining 25 minutes of play after UNA’s goal, but UNA’s back four held their own. Grace was forced to come up with one last save in the final 10 minutes of play to preserve the lead.

The Lions now face West Florida Nov. 11, exactly one week after losing 4-0 to the Argonauts in the GSC tournament final. This will be the third meeting between these two teams this season.

Head coach Graham Winkworth said he didn’t feel like UNA gave their best showing last week during the GSC final against UWF.

“We look forward to having the opportunity to play them again, and we want to give them a good game,” Winkworth said.

Center back Julia Osmond picked up a hip injury late in the first half. Chelsea Rial substituted in and replaced Julia for the remainder of the game. 

Winkworth said he would be evaluating who would be available for the game Nov. 11 and looking at changing some approaches to their match-up with West Florida.

“We’ll look at a couple of things and we’ll tweak a few things tactically, but the girls know that they can play with them,” Winkworth said.

UNA squares off with West Florida at 1 p.m. Nov. 11. Follow @americanmatt5 on Twitter for live updates during the game, and look for a full tournament wrap up in The Flor-Ala Nov. 15.