Donovan leads UNCG to SoCon tournament crown
CULLOWHEE, NC – Senior Shannon Donovan scored twice in the first-half as top-seeded UNC Greensboro defeated third-seeded Furman, 3-1, Sunday afternoon in the Southern Conference Women’s Soccer Championship title game.
UNCG improved to a perfect 6-0 in conference title game appearances and earned a trip to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament for the seventh time in the program’s history.
Donovan, the 2006 Southern Conference Player of the Year, gave the Spartans an early lead at the 5:29 minute mark. Donovan gathered the clearing pass and blasted it to the lower left hand corner from 25 yards for her sixth goal of the season. Six minutes later, Donovan scored again after a Furman foul in the box gave UNCG a penalty shot. That tally gave UNCG an early 2-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the soccer pitch, junior goalkeeper Katherine Ryan had a big first half. Ryan tallied five saves for the Spartans in the first 45 minutes of play to keep the Lady Paladins off the scoreboard.
Furman (11-10-1) got on the board in the 66th minute thanks to the league’s scoring leader, Anna Betton. Margaret Antonik took the Lady Paladin corner kick and passed it to Sara El-Shami. El-Shami launched a cross right to Betton who put a header in for her 14th goal of the season.
The Spartans (13-7-2) answered back in the 79th minute of play. Donovan sent a through ball to the feet of freshman Kelly Attayek. The Raleigh, NC, native out ran the Lady Paladin defense and beat Furman keeper Briana da Mota to put the Spartans back up two goals, 3-1.
Ryan produced two more saves in the final minutes of the match to preserve the win. She put up one of her best performances as a Spartan. The Pittsboro, NC, native posted 10 saves in the win, which puts her season save total to 100, third-best on the single season save list.
UNCG outshot Furman 15-13 and held the 5-4 corner kick advantage.
“It was a great win by our team. We were really on top of our game,” said head coach Eddie Radwanski, who was awarded the 2006 Southern Conference Coach of the Year honor by his peers earlier in the week. “Shannon Donovan was phenomenal today and proved why she was awarded Player of the Year. Our back three played a strong defense for us and Katherine Ryan put up a great performance.”
The Spartans started out the season 1-7-0; facing arguably one of the toughest schedules in the nation before going unbeaten in their final 14 matches. UNCG is currently on a 10-game winning streak, which is the longest streak in the program’s 18-year history.
“To have finished our last 14 games unbeaten really shows our progress this season. The reason for our success was the tough early schedule and it has paid off for us,” stated Radwanski.
UNCG is now 20-4-1 all-time in the Southern Conference Tournament. The Spartans have outscored their opponents 78-11 and hold the best winning percentage in SoCon women’s soccer postseason history.
UNCG’s last appearance in the NCAA’s was in 2003 when it advanced to the second round after defeating in-state rival, Wake Forest. The Spartans will wait until Monday afternoon to find out where they will be placed. The NCAA selection show will air in the 3 o’clock hour on ESPNEWS.
Goals by period 1
Furman.............. 0 1 - 1
UNC Greensboro...... 2 1 - 3
SCORING SUMMARY: UNCG Donovan (unassisted), 5:29; UNCG Donovan (penalty kick), 11:36; FUR Betton (Antonik;El-Shami), 65:34; UNCG Attayek (Donovan), 78:38. Shots: Furman 13, UNC Greensboro 15. Saves: Furman 2 (da Mota 2), UNC Greensboro 10 (Ryan 10). Corner Kicks: Furman 4, UNC Greensboro 5. Fouls: Furman 9, UNC Greensboro 13.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Lauren Santos, Georgia Southern; Laura Smith, Georgia Southern; Shanna Schmoker, Western Carolina; Arlan Whittle, Western Carolina; Margaret Antonik, Furman; Rachel Fry, Furman; Anna Betton, Furman; Katherine Ryan, UNC Greensboro; Deven Beachum, UNC Greensboro; Leigh Riordon, UNC Greensboro; Jamie Corti, UNC Greensboro.
Most Outstanding Performer: Shannon Donovan, UNC Greensboro
- UNCG -