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Ria Acton
Ria Acton, the SAC Defensive Player of the Year, had two goals for the Bears.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Soccer Blows Out Catawba in Regionals

For the second time in three years, the No. 6 Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Soccer Team are regional champions. The Bears scored the first four goals to cruise past No. 9 Catawba, 4-2, and into the NCAA Quarterfinal on the campus of Florida Tech on Friday afternoon. Ria Acton scored twice and Florida native Neve Duston had a goal and a pair of assists.

It was all LR from the get go. In the ninth minute, Evan O’Leary sent a corner into the box that found the head of Duston. Duston placed it in the bottom right corner, just past a Catawba defender as LR grabbed the early lead. Just over nine minutes later, Duston and Anna Schuller set up a header from Regional Player of the Year Elin Hansson who put it in the back of the net for her 16th goal of the season.

In the 26th minute, Duston’s perfect pass found the right foot of Acton alone in the box who deposited it in for the third goal of the contest for the top-seeded Bears. Acton would then convert a PK as she drew a foul in the box and the Bears were up 4-0 in the 64th minute.

The Indians would tack on a pair of goals in the later stages of the half to pull within two but LR sealed the win and the third regional title in program history. S.A. Phillips played all 90 minutes in net and made two stops to earn the win. The Bears held a 9-8 edge in shots and 5-4 lead in shots on goal. Catawba was whistled for 15 penalties to four by the Bears.

LR beat Catawba to win the SAC Regular Season Championship, SAC Tournament Championship and NCAA Southeast Regional Championship this year. The Bears won 2-1 in the regular season finale to capture that crown and advanced on PK’s past Catawba in the SAC Tournament title game before today’s win. The four goals scored are the most scored in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. In the regular season game, LR jumped out with two goals in the first five minutes so the hot start today wasn’t without precedent.

LR is now 7-7-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.

The Bears are 17-0-5 on the season. LR will take on Florida Tech in Melbourne on Sunday at 3pm. The winner of that game will advance to the Final Four on Thursday.