Columbus – For the first time in the storied history of the Columbus State University women's soccer program, the Lady Cougars were victorious over a top-five ranked opponent. On Friday night, No. 24 CSU defeated No. 3 Armstrong Atlantic State University 2-0 in both teams' Peach Belt Conference opener at the Walden Soccer Complex.
In its previous 10 matches against top-five foes, Columbus State was 0-9-1 including two losses this season.
"Coming into today, we knew the second half was going to be the difference in the match," said head coach Jay Entlich. "Armstrong is a very good second half team but we responded and I'm very proud of the girls."
It was a feeling out process in the first half by the two PBC titans. Columbus State (3-2-0, 1-0-0 PBC) had the first scoring chance in the match as freshman Nicole Corcione fired a shot wide right in the 19thminute and just 10 seconds later sent one wide to the left.
Armstrong (2-1-2, 0-1-0) didn't have a strong threat in the first half but Brianne Matarazzo did fire a shot from long distance that Meosha Hatcherhad to save in the 43rd minute. Mary Margaret Davis ended the half with a shot that went wide.
Coming out of the break, the two teams picked up the intensity as both sides took shots within the first two minutes of the second half.
In the 52nd minute, Corcione took control of the ball and dribbled down the left side of the field and made her way into the box. She then played the ball back to Chelsea Person who chipped the ball over Morgan Luckie in net for the goal to give CSU a 1-0 lead.
It was the first goal by Columbus State against Armstrong since 2009, a span stretching six full matches and over 640 minutes.
Armstrong didn't go quietly, however, as the Pirates went on the attack from there. In the 67th minute, the Pirates made a dangerous cross into CSU's box where an attacker found the ball and slipped it into the net. However, she was called offside and the goal was disallowed.
Just two minutes later, Sarah Olin took a shot about 25 yards out that went just high of the crossbar for the Pirates.
Things became interesting in the 78th minute. CSU was on the attack when a long ball was played to Person. Person headed the ball over the charging Luckie when the two players collided causing a stoppage in play. Luckie was sent off with a red card and backup goalkeeper Maggie Carson replaced her.
On the proceeding free kick, Shelby Rolling sent a shot over the wall of Pirate defenders into the upper-left portion of the net. It was the sophomore's first goal of the season.
Armstrong had one final attack in the 84th minute but Hatcher denied the shot and the follow-up shot was wide to the right.
The Lady Cougars snapped a six-match winless streak against Armstrong with the victory.
"All the girls believed in each other tonight and that made a big difference," commented Entlich. "We can enjoy this victory for tonight but tomorrow we turn our attention to a tough Lee team."
Armstrong outshot CSU 12-11 in the contest with nine of those coming in the second half.
Hatcher picked up three saves as she improved to 3-0-0 this season.