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Lady Flames Win Second Straight National Title

 

 

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Lady Flames Win Second Straight National Title

DECATUR, Ala. – Katie Woodall (Masters Academy, Oviedo) was selected last year by Florida Girls Soccer as a 2a All-State Player and went on to be a Freshman walk on player for Lee University (Cleveland TN). She was awarded the highest academic scholarship there at Lee. She was not a starter but played in seven games and helped the Lee team to go on and win a consecutive National title.

The Lee women’s soccer team completed a clean-shutout sweep of NAIA National Tournament competition on a cold Saturday night at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex, whipping Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.), 2-0.

It is the second consecutive national title for the 21-2-1 Lady Flames and it ended a Cinderella run by the unseeded Sea Lions. It marked the 18th shutout of the season by coach Matt Yelton’s team. Lee, seeded second in the tourney, has not allowed a goal since an Oct. 13 win over Carson-Newman.

As usual, the Lady Flames started the championship match with a bang. Thirteen minutes deep into the battle, senior Lauren Good knocked in the biggest goal of her career on an assist from another senior, Marina Lima, who was named first-team All-American.

Lee took complete command with 17:49 remaining in the first half and never looked back as NAIA National Player of the Year, Christiane Christensen, tallied the goal on an assist from sophomore teammate and second-team All-American, Jamie Achten.
 
Christiane Christensen was closed out a brilliant season by being named the National Tournament MVP. Jamie Achten was the tournament's Offensive MVP and Linn Christensen joiined Marina Lima as members of the National All-Tournament team.

"We talked about coming out ready to play this morning," said Yelton. "Give a ton of credit to our team. It played up to its capability and even beyond our expectations. It has been a fantastic team to coach the entire year."

Yelton and his Lady Flames then turned the match over to the defense and sensational freshman goalkeeper, Leah Wilson, who was selected a third-team All-American. With 13 minutes left in the half, Wilson recorded a save on a shot by Katie Pedlowe. The barrage continued when Lauren Abarca launched a shot at the Lee goal that was again rejected by the ever-present Wilson. A third attempt was fired by Kelsey Lundberg, but the count stood at 2-0 going into the break.

"Leah, as well as the entire defense, was under a ton of pressure the entire tournament. We were asking a freshman goalkeeper to go against the top teams in the country," pointed out Yelton. "Our average for goals allowed has to be among the lowest in the history of the NAIA."

The Sea Lions came out firing on all cylinders to begin the second 45 minutes. Three quick shots were rejected by Wilson and her teammates. The defensive stand seemed to destroy any hopes of a comeback against the defending national champions.

"I have all the respect for the Point Loma team," added Yelton. "They played four matches in five days and a ton of minutes to reach the final . They never gave up, even after we scored the second goal, they just kept coming after us."

In fact, Point Loma did not get another shot away until less than four minutes remained in the match. In the meantime, the Lady Flames counted down the clock and waited anxiously for another championship celebration to begin.

It was the eighth straight national tournament victory for the surging Lady Flames and their 19th consecutive win since a Sept. 12 defeat to Lindsey Wilson College. Linn Christensen, a key Lee defender joined her sister (Chris) and Lima as first-team All-Americans.

Yelton had nothing but praise for the senior leadership on this club. "I think this championship was even harder than last year," he confessed. "We had a target on our backs from the beginning of the season and our seniors helped our younger players accept that responsibility. I can't say enough about the effort given by Jenna Achten. She played with a seriously damaged toe, but battled through the entire tournament. That's the type of effort and determination it takes to win championships. The entire team was just a class act, especially our seniors."

Point Loma attempted 12 shots in the hard-fought match and placed seven on goal. They had only one problem, Wilson was not about to allow a shot into the back of the net. Lee got off 11 shots against the unseeded Point Loma team that had upset Vanguard, Lindsey Wilson and Azusa Pacific to earn a shot at the Lady Flames.

 

In the world of sports, most have always said defense wins games and offense sells tickets. The Lady Flames proved that theory again on a bitter-cold night in Alabama.