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Neve Duston
Neve Duston scored the game winning penalty kick to advance the Bears to the regionals.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Soccer Defeats Columbus State in Penalty Kicks

The Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Soccer Team was down to their last 55 seconds of the season before Elin Hansson headed the ball into the back of the net after a corner kick to force overtime. In overtime, Nicole Auger scored in the 95th minute but Columbus State found the equalizer with just three minutes to go to force a penalty kick shootout. During the shootout, The Bears were up 3-2 when Neve Duston scored to advance the Bears to their 4th ever regional final, winning the PK’s 4-2. The Bears will now face Catawba for the third time this season on December 1st.

A wild last six minutes was the highlight of this one as the Cougars broke the scoreless tie in the 86th with a goal by Sage Smith. Smith just flicked it past S.A. Phillips after a pass from Emma Beddow. It all but looked like Columbus State would defeat the Bears 1-0 by a late minute goal for the second straight season but Elin Hansson had a shot with one minute left. Hansson’s shot went wide but it was deflected forcing a corner kick. As Evan O’Leary sent the corner kick into the box, the ball bounced around and eventually Hansson ended up with it and headed it in to tie it up with just 55 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Auger then scored her second goal of this tournament just four minutes into overtime after a great cross from Kara Gavaghan. With less the three minutes left to go in double overtime, The Bears committed a foul just outside the box and Beddow connected it over Kristin Oliver’s head to tie it at two.

The Bears connected to open the penalty kicks with three straight good attempts by O’Leary, Ria Acton and Hansson. After Phillips made a key save, Ella Garner’s attempt was saved. However, the Cougars next attempt went wide allowing Duston a chance to advance the Bears to the regional final.

Duston, who owns the program record for most games played, as the senior is playing in her 92nd game connected just inside the left lower post to move the Bears to the sweet sixteen.

Phillips made four saves in her 90 minutes and Oliver made a save in her twenty minutes as Oliver played in overtime then Phillips returned for PK’s and made the key save.

The NCAA changed the postseason rules last season. Overtime is consists of two ten-minute periods which means no more golden goals. This was the fifth meeting all-time between this programs in the NCAA Tournament. Bears are now 1-2-2 against the Cougars in postseason play. The Bears are now 6-7-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament games and this will be the Bears fourth regional final.

Catawba defeated North Georgia in overtime yesterday to advance to the Regional Final. Lenoir-Rhyne is 16-0-5 on the season. The Bears will face Catawba in the Regional Final on December 1st from Melbourne Fla. Its the South Regions turn to host the regional and Florida Tech is the highest ranked team left in that regional.