kicker head above main headline: Lady Flames earn first NCAA Final FourFreshman Lauren Weimer headed home the decisive goal and Taylor Green made clutch save after clutch save to continue Lee …
kicker head above main headline:
Lady Flames earn first NCAA Final Four
Freshman Lauren Weimer headed home the decisive goal and Taylor Green made clutch save after clutch save to continue Lee University's magical postseason run, knocking off third-ranked Columbus State (Ga.) 1-0 Sunday afternoon at the Lee Soccer Field to punch its ticket to the program's first NCAA D2 Women's Soccer Final Four.
The Lady Flames shut out both the No. 2 (West Florida) and No. 3 (Columbus State) teams in the nation, giving them their first losses of the season, during this postseason run.
Lee improves to 17-6-1 on the year while the Cougars end their season at 18-1-2.
The Lady Flames will join Bridgeport (17-4-1), Grand Valley State (23-0-1) and UC-San Diego (18-2-2) in the Final Four which is being held in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Nov. 29. The national championship match will be at 3 p.m. on Dec. 1.
Sophomore Anna Lanter, who played at Soddy-Daisy High School, made a run down the sidelines and delivered a beautiful ball into the box connecting with Weimer who headed it home in the 63rd minute of the match.
From there Green put on one of the most dominating displays of goalkeeper you will ever see as she came up with save after save to preserve the lead.
The red-shirt junior from Ooltewah made the play of the year as she saved a penalty kick with 24 minutes remaining in the contest lunging to her left to deflect the shot from Amanda Murphy. The penalty was set up by a Lee hand ball in the box.
Just moments later in the 70th minute Green leaped in the air to send away a header from Brooke Nail that appeared destined for the back of the net. For the match Green finished with six saves while Columbus State keeper, Bria Riancho had three saves.
"Columbus State is as good of a team as I've seen since we made the transition to D2," said Lee head coach Chris Hennessey. "That was the best goalkeeping performance that I may have ever seen. Taylor was phenomenal. We defended resiliently. We had to dig deep and we were tired but we stuck to the game plan and we were disciplined. We were fortuitous in some situations but the girls played with so much heart and for us to win today everyone had to have their best game and we got that. So to come away and get this win to go to the Final Four is something I've never even dreamed about."
"It's so rewarding to be here now. I never imagined at the beginning of the year that I would be in this position. To be able to come up big for my teammates is such an amazing experience. We worked so hard to get that goal that I knew I had to step up on that penalty kick because my teammates have been there for me so many times," said Green.
The Cougars stayed on the attack after conceding the goal coming up with shots off the post and just high on several occasions but could not find the equalizer.
"This was a great environment. Lee did a great job hosting and the fan support for both teams was tremendous. I thought we did a nice job creating several good scoring opportunities but we couldn't finish them and that's the game of soccer sometimes," said Columbus State head coach Jay Entlich. "Lee's keeper was outstanding and if she plays like that in the Final Four they have a great chance to win it all."
The Lee defense forced Columbus State to the wings opening up the opportunity for 17 corner kicks for the Cougars. For the game the Cougars outshot the Lady Flames 16-11 and placed six on frame to five for Lee.
The two clubs battled to a scoreless draw at the intermission. Columbus State registered four shots while Lee posted three.
"Playing at home was a huge boost for us and I'd like to thank our incredible fans for providing us with such a great atmosphere and everyone who worked so hard to put this tournament on. We are so appreciative of their effort and energy and this was so special to accomplish at our home," concluded Hennessey.
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