Lions Roar Back in Final Minutes; Mocs Fall 3-2 in
First Round of NCAA South Region Tournament
– North Alabama forward Chloe Roberts was not only the Gulf South Conference
Freshman-of-the-Year, but the league’s Player-of-the-Year as well. Friday
afternoon, she showed why she was so deserving of both honors. Scoring two
goals, including the game-winner with less than five minutes to play, and
assisting one other, Roberts led UNA to a 3-2 win over Florida Southern in
the first round of the NCAA South Region Tournament.
UNA came into the game ranked second in Division II in
goals per game (4.18), but the Moccasins looked in total control through the
first 20 minutes, taking the first six shots of the game, including three by
They also had a near-goal in the 10th minute when UNA defender Katie Crosby
broke up a run by
Kerri-Ann Brown inside the box before Brown could take a shot. So it was
with some surprise that the Lions scored first, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal
by Roberts in the 24th minute. With the play starting in the back, the Lions
were able to get the ball to her at the top center of the box, where she
connected on a low line drive for her 31st goal of the season.
As far as the first half was concerned, that goal was
just a blip on the screen. The Mocs continued to have the better of it all
the way to halftime, and responded with two goals of their own.
Princess Haley got
the first one on a penalty kick in the 31st minute, after Brown was brought
down inside the box. Ironically, it came after a throw-in from Haley put the
Mocs in that position to begin with. It was Haley’s team-leading 10th goal
of the season.
Florida Southern scored its second goal in the 38th
minute, again on a set play. With
Ashlie Haas and
working the ball from the back third, and on through the midfield, the Mocs
earned a corner kick that was taken by
Alex Hoover. With
the ball curling the ball in from the right corner, Haas stepped in front of
a UNA defender and had just enough time to flick the ball around her, and
over the hands of goalkeeper Alex McLay for the goal.
The 2-1 lead held up until the 64th minute when the Lions
again started a scoring play in the back by sending a ball down the middle
for Roberts. This time, Roberts got the ball to Jamie Takala, who took it
into the box and just got the shot off as
Martina Tangen Billing
came out to challenge her.
The pressure continued after Takala tied the game, as
Tangen Billing saved a shot by Roberts immediately after that, and a header
by Hollie Loud on a corner kick in the 78th minute was close to scoring too.
Tangen Billing came up with another save in the 83rd minute, and a shot by
Jo Chubb in the 85th was a little wide of the mark.
North Alabama then broke through for the final time with
4:43 remaining, with Roberts scoring her second goal of the match. It came
on a great individual effort, with Roberts dribbling through the Moccasin
defense from the side of the box, before maneuvering into position for a
shot just inside the near post.
That goal not only gave North Alabama the lead, it also
moved Roberts to the top of the Division II leader board, giving her one
more than West Florida’s Shakira Duncan (32-31). Combined with her assist on
the Lions’ second goal, Roberts has a total of 79 points, also the most in
After falling behind 3-2, the Moccasins did not have
another shot, but they did have one last scoring chance at the end of the
game. Following a free kick deep in their own territory, the Mocs got the
ball to Haley on the left wing with around 10 seconds to play. However, UNA
defender Stephanie Bradshaw twice kept her from dribbling in for a shot,
eventually poking the ball away as time expired.
“North Alabama is obviously a very good team,” said
Florida Southern head coach
“They worked hard for this win and came back when a lot of things weren’t
going their way early in the game.”
The two teams finished with identical shot totals (10
apiece), but after Florida Southern out-shot North Alabama 8-2 in the first
half, the numbers were completely reversed in the second. Tangen Billing and
McLay each made two saves for their respective teams.
With the win, North Alabama (19-3-1) advances to the
second round of the South Region Tournament where it will face top-ranked
West Florida (19-0) on Sunday at 1:00. It will be a matchup of the nation’s
two highest scoring teams.
Florida Southern finishes the season with a 12-8-1
record, making its second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, while
playing 10 games against other teams that also qualified for postseason
play. The Moccasins also did that with only two seniors on the roster.
“As every team does, we had to fight through adversity to
reach this point, and I’m extremely proud of these players,” said
Strawbridge. “It’s never easy, but this team put itself in position to reach
every goal we set, and that takes a lot of hard work from the start of the
season all the way through to the end. We’ve got a lot to look forward to