It took three consecutive ASUN Championship heartbreakers against FGCU, but the the Lipscomb women’s soccer has finally won its first-ever league tournament title.
The team became the latest Lipscomb program to advance to its first NCAA tournament, beating the sixth-seeded North Alabama Lions by a score of 3-2 at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex on Saturday.
As a newcomer to the Division I level, North Alabama is not eligible for NCAA tournament. That meant that one-seeded Lipscomb had already clinched an NCAA automatic bid before Saturday night’s game.
But for Lipscomb coach Kevin O’Brien, the contest was still a must-win.
“The mentality was, who knows if we’re going to get another chance to play for a tournament championship?” O’Brien said. “So we went with the strongest group that we had, and we played to win it.”
North Alabama did not go down without a fight. As the bottom seed in the tournament, the Lions took down three-seeded Kennesaw State in the quarterfinals and two-seeded NJIT in the semifinals.
The Lions’ two goals against the Lady Bisons matched the total number of goals that Lipscomb has allowed to ASUN opponents all season. One of their goals came from junior forward Shelby Wall, who led the Lions with seven tallies coming into the game.
O’Brien said that “neither [of the goals] are a major concern.”
Lipscomb’s victory came primarily from two goals scored by junior forward and ASUN Player of the Year Olivia Doak. The other was notched by redshirt junior forward and ASUN All-Academic Team member Maycie McKay.
Following the game, McKay was honored as the ASUN Tournament MVP.
O’Brien, who is in seventh year at the helm of the program, echoed McKay’s sentiments.
“It’s a culmination of a lot of work by the coaches, and then multiple recruiting classes,” O’Brien said. “This is our sixth year bringing players into the program.”
In the 15th minute, Doak juked and beat UNA senior goalie Shelby Thornton to put the Lady Bisons up 1-0. Lipscomb took a 2-0 lead in the 38th minute when McKay knocked the ball into the right side of the net.
UNA scored their first goal in the 42nd minute when Lipscomb goalie Kate Mason couldn’t field the ball as it bounced into the goal. Senior midfielder Margarida Sousa was credited with the goal.
The second half started out as an offensive shootout. Lipscomb struck in the 50th minute on a breakaway play from midfield that ended in a Doak score, while UNA’s Wall tallied a penalty kick three minutes later to cut Lipscomb’s advantage to 3-2.
Lipscomb had a few shots that nearly found the net later in the second half, and both teams combined for a total of eight shots after the penalty kick. However, each defense stood tall for the remaining 37 minutes.
O’Brien said the difference in this year’s team was that they simply had an extra gear compared to previous Lipscomb squads.
“We’ve finally got a team that’s capable of playing at a really high level,” he said.
Lipscomb fans can find out when and where the team will play its NCAA tournament game at a selection show watch party in the Allen Arena Hall of Fame room on Monday. The event is open to the public and begins at 2:30 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics