The Lee women’s soccer team continued their Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) dominance with a 4-1 victory over Belhaven University in the opening round of the conference tournament, Saturday evening at the Lee soccer field.
The Lady Flames hold the No. 1 seed in the tournament and are ranked first in the latest NAIA poll.
The victory moves Lee to 15-1-1 on the year. The loss ends the Blazers season as they finish with a record of 6-13.
Ashley Aragona started the scoring for Lee at the 13:13 mark as she headed in a beautiful cross from Ode Fulutudilu. The run was started by Leah Fortune who was also credited with an assist.
The Lady Flames extended the margin at the 38:45 mark. This time it was Fulutudilu using her head to put the Flames up 2-0. Amy Cochran provided the assist.
The second half was more of the same for the home team. Fortune struck from the top of the box to extend the lead to three at the 50:32 mark. The Final Lee goal was tallied by Chloe Woody on a cross from Christina Bovbjerg in the 75th minute.
Belhaven’s only goal came in the 82nd minute by Chelsea Smith. The score was set up off a corner kick from Rebecca Ontero.
Lee finished with 25 shots, 13 of which were on goal. The Blazers were only able to manage two shots in the contest, both were on mark.
Senior goalkeeper Leah Wilson had one save and did not allow a goal in her 78 minutes of work. Another senior patrolling the net for the Lady Flames, Elyse Cottrell, worked the final 11 minutes.
Coach Matt Yelton praised his team’s effort, "I thought we put in a good night's work tonight and were able to recognize our seniors and all that they have put into their careers."
"It's post-season and we knew that we would play against a team that would look to keep the game close. Belhaven gave a great effort tonight, and played with a lot of enthusiasm, but I thought we had a lot of players show a good response and go out and demonstrate the desire to move on in the tournament.
We are happy to be making the trip to Montgomery and excited to play in another conference semi-final. However, we are going to have to perform at our best with the SSAC being of the quality that we have seen this year," noted Yelton.
Before the match Lee honored their eight seniors on the 2012 squad. Darcy Brannen, Cochran, Kim Conrad, Cottrell, Ali Eisnaugle, Clair Lanter, Caroline Scales and Wilson were recognized for their significant contributions to the women’s soccer program. The senior class amassed a record of 80-7 over the last four years, including three-straight NAIA National Championships.
Yelton spoke about his group of seniors, "Finally, I would like to say a special thank you to this group of seniors. They are an incredible group of women and set the standard very high in everything they do--I am truly honored to have had opportunity to coach them over the last several seasons."
The Lady Flames will be back on the pitch Thursday in Montgomery Ala. for a quarterfinal matchup with Brenau University in the SSAC Tournament. The Golden Tigers beat Auburn-Montgomery 3-1 in their opening round match.