Second-seeded Western Carolina Wins Thrilling 2008 Southern Conference Championship on PKs

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Western Carolina wins the 2008 Women's Soccer SoCon Championship in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. on Sunday afternoon.
Western Carolina wins the 2008 Women's Soccer SoCon Championship in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. on Sunday afternoon.

Nov. 9, 2008

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Mt. Pleasant, S.C. - The Western Carolina women's soccer team battled 110 minutes of scoreless play before finishing off the top-seeded UNC Greensboro on penalty kicks, 2-0, to win the program's second Southern Conference Championship.

The win on PK's was the Catamounts second shootout victory in their last three matches. With the win, Western Carolina earns its second championship and SoCon automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with their opponent being named on ESPN News, Monday night beginning at 8:00 pm. Also the Catamounts will host a selection show party begining at 7:00 pm at the University Center so come out and support the Cats.

"I'm at a loss with words, just filled with emotion of the victory," said head coach Tammy DeCesare, who won her second championship in Cullowhee with her first coming back in 2005 in a 1-0 win over Furman. "To be able to get a win over the caliber of program of UNC Greensboro is a testament to the hard work of our players and the level of where our program is going."

WCU sophomore goal keeper Caitlin Williams, who was named tournament MVP, made four huge saves to keep UNC Greensboro off the board in shootout. The Liberty, N.C., native stonewalled four Spartan shooters, including league Player of the Year, Katelynn Donovan, to lift Western to the victory.

Williams, along with three other Catamounts, made the All-tournament team. Senior defender Arlan Whittle earned her second career All-Tournament team honor and was joined by fellow defender, junior Jenny Matteson. Junior midfielder Shanna Schmoker rounded out the All-tournament team members for WCU.

After 110 minutes of scoreless play, penalty kicks were needed to decide the winner for the championship. Lauren Lopez' first attempt for UNCG was saved by Caitlin Williams on a diving stop to her right and was followed by junior Nikki Lombardo scoring to give the Catamounts a 1-0 lead.

Williams came up with another huge save against second shooter, Donovan, again diving right to punch the ball out and keep the Catamounts ahead, 1-0. After a Catamount miss, Williams made her third save of the one-on-one segment, this time going left to hold things at 1-0, WCU.

Whittle delivered a beautiful score to make the score push the Catamounts ahead by two, with Williams stoning UNCG defender, Kristin Player, for her fourth save in PK's, setting off a raucous celebration on the field for the purple and gold.

"We spent a lot of time in (penalty kicks) this season because of last year (losing at College of Charleston in first round on PKs) and I felt very confident with our keeper going in," DeCesare said. "I felt much more confident with my girls feeling more prepared and mentality ready, especially after winning on PK's against Elon in the first round.."

She concluded, "To be considered one of the elite teams in the country is very important for this program and our players."

The championship match saw a first half where two hot teams played very physical throughout the half. Western Carolina did have some quality opportunities to take an early lead. First, the Catamounts had a golden opportunity with a free kick coming in the 19th minute by All-Freshman Team selection, Kayla Beauduy. Following a a foul which led to a yellow card on UNCG defender Jaimey Etten, Beauduy's shot off the set piece went just wide left of the net.

Later in the first half, the Catamounts had another great opportunity, in the 43rd minute, when junior Rachael Shomper took a pass from fellow junior Bri Cunningham. Shomper crossed the ball into the box and Spartans goal keeper Kearney got a hand on it before it was cleared from the Spartan's defense to keep things knotted through intermission.

Williams played a very solid first half, making four key saves to keep the contest tied heading to the locker room.

The second half saw both teams attacking hard, looking to take advantage in the SoCon finals. Western had an opportunity in the 68th minute of play when Whittle hit a corner kick inside the box. WCU defender Hilary Holder put a header shot attempt but went wide of the net to keep the game tied.

Western Carolina was attacking again in the 75th minute of play when Schmoker fired a shot from outside the box that took a funny bounce but Spartans keeper Kearney came up with the crucial save.

In the first overtime both teams were on the defensive with Western Carolina having more chances inside Greensboro's defensive side. At the end of the first overtime, Western Carolina had the only shot attempt in the extra session as the game remained tied after 100 minutes of play.

The Catamounts came attacking in the second overtime when a bouncing ball came rolling but Spartans keeper Kearney came sliding in to preserve the tie. Both teams ended a thrilling double overtime session scoreless after 110 minutes of play.

All-Tournament Team

Margaret Antonik, Furman

Katya Gokham, Furman

Paige Lanter, Samford

Amber Cress, Samford

Kelsey Kearney, UNC Greensboro

Mary Kate Towne, UNC Greensboro

Lauren Lopez, UNC Greensboro

Arlan Whittle, Western Carolina

Jenny Matteson, Western Carolina

Shanna Schmoker, Western Carolina

Caitlin Williams, Western Carolina

Tournament MVP

Caitlin Williams, Western Carolina



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