HICKORY, N.C. --- The No. 20 Columbus State University women's soccer team scored twice in the second half to break a halftime deadlock, and defeat Lees-McRae College in the first round of the NCAA Division II women's soccer championship on Friday evening.
Columbus State (16-4-2) outshot Lees-McRae (13-5-3) by a 28-7 margin, including an 18-2 advantage in the second half, while holding a 10-2 edge in corner kicks. Stephanie Lowery tallied a pair of goals for the Cougars, while Kiana Nicholson added a score and Ashley Miller chipped in an assist. Mary Mancin added four saves for the Cougars between the pipes.
MaryBeth Sullivan (Greensboro, N.C.) scored the lone goal for the Bobcats, while senior Mary Dorn (Shallotte, N.C.) added an assist. Freshman Kaitlyn Briggs (Oviedo, Fla.) chipped in seven saves in goal for the Bobcats.
Sullivan got the Bobcats off to a flying start in the second minute of the match, punching the rebound after Dorn's initial effort wrung off the bar and fell to the sophomore forward at the goal mouth, giving Lees-McRae an early 1-0 lead. Columbus State leveled proceedings less than two minutes later, when the Cougars were awarded a penalty kick and Lowery converted from the spot to even the match at 1-1.
Lowery put the Cougars in front early in the 67th minute, sending a free kick into the upper 90 from 25 yards distance for her second of the match to give Columbus State a 2-1 lead. Nicholson provided an insurance goal late in the 83rd minute, sending a shot from the top of the area over the Bobcat keeper to give the Cougars the final margin of 3-1.
Lees-McRae is expected to return 17 letter-winners from this year's Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament championship squad, including Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year Meagan Thornton (Millville, N.J.) and first-team all-conference selection Sullivan.
- LMC -