NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Lipscomb women’s soccer team will be sleeping in their own beds when the ASUN conference tournament rolls around on Nov. 3.
That’s because the Bisons clinched the No. 1 seed after reeling off four straight conference victories in the first two-and-a-half weeks of October – including a 1-0 win at No. 25 Florida Gulf Coast on Oct. 17.
Senior Ellen Lundy scored on a penalty kick to knock off the Eagles, who topped Lipscomb in both the 2015 and 2016 ASUN conference title games.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Lipscomb coach Kevin O’Brien said. “We’ve lost to (FGCU) in the last two conference championships, so if I had [to list] a nemesis, they would be ours. Our players were really fired up for that game.”
Lundy has been the key cog for Lipscomb and she leads the team with seven goals – four of which have been game-winning tallies.
“What makes [Lundy] so incredible is that she’s got no ego,” O’Brien said. “If you ask her to play in the back, she’s plays in the back with everyone’s she’s got. If you ask her to play up front, she’ll play up front with everything she’s got. She the epitome of a team player.”
In addition to the FGCU win, Lipscomb defeated NJIT, North Florida, Jacksonville and USC Upstate in conference play. The Bisons will get a first-round bye for their efforts and will play the winner of the Kennesaw State-North Florida game on Nov. 3.
“It’s huge,” O’Brien said of the bye. “We’ve got some players that are worn down and injured, so they’ll have some extra time to get back to full health.”
The first-round games will be held at Kennesaw State and Stetson, while the semi-finals and the championship game will be held at Lipscomb Soccer Complex, where the field is still green despite taking a beating over the past two months.
“We’re really fortunate to have a wonderful crew that looks after the field,” O’Brien said. “There are a lot of other programs where [the field] doesn’t look nearly as nice as our does right now.”
O’Brien said his team is looking forward to having home-field advantage and hopes that it can help the Bisons get over the hump of the ASUN title game.
“I love that we’ll have a home crowd,” he said. “I think that will give us a little bit of an advantage. It’s certainly not going to be as warm as it has been in Fort Myers [during the previous two title games].”
Saturday’s result: Kennesaw State 1, Lipscomb 0: The Bisons were unable to continue the hot streak in their regular season finale, dropping a 1-0 contest to the visiting Owls.
Brooke Brenner and Olivia Doak each had two shots on goal, but Lipscomb was unable to find the back of the net. Goalkeeper Kate Mason finished the night with four saves.
Five seniors — Lundy, Jade Abarca, Natalie DuBoise, Paige Miller and Niamh Rawlins — were honored prior to kick-off.
Before the group arrived on campus, no Lipscomb team had finished with more than six wins in a season in the school’s NCAA Division I era.
O’Brien said the five seniors have helped changed the culture of what was once a listless program.
“Our group cares deeply about each other and are willingly to fight tooth and nail for each other,” O’Brien said. “The five of them have been phenomenal, and we’ll forever be indebted to them.”
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics