DEMOREST, Ga. -- For the first time since 2013, the Covenant women's soccer team has advanced to the USA South Tournament semifinals. Keeper Rachel Lemay made a save on the final penalty kick attempt in a shootout to advance the No. 3 seed Lady Scots past No. 2 seeded Piedmont 1-1 (4-3 in penalty kicks) on a rainy and cold Saturday evening at the Walker Athletic Complex.
Covenant (11-6-1) advances to the USA South Tournament semifinals where they will take on East No. 4 seed Methodist on Friday, Nov. 3. Methodist upset No. 1 East seed Salem, 4-2, earlier on Saturday. Match time and location will be set after the quarterfinal round ends on Sunday.
After neither team could find the back of the net in the two overtime sessions, a penalty shootout would decide who moves on and who gets eliminated. Addy Cronan knocked in her attempt and Piedmont's Erin Bright missed high on her chance giving Covenant a 1-0 lead after round one. Momentum swung back to Piedmont's favor after Carter Steedley's attempt was saved by the Lions' keeper Miranda McNalley before Tori Gillett knotted the shootout score at 1-1 with her score. Over the next two rounds, both teams' attempts were successful as Callie Bader and Molly Kate McClearn converted for Covenant.
In the final round, freshman Elsa Woody calmly knocked home her attempt giving the Lady Scots a 4-3 edge and putting all the pressure on Piedmont. Lemay then came up big as she was able to get in front of Savannah Castles' attempt and deflect it away giving Covenant the shootout win.
Piedmont (15-0-4) had not been beaten all year and is currently regionally ranked by the NCAA. The Lions were also the two-time defending USA South Tournament champions.
Despite being outshot in the contest 21-6, Covenant took a first half lead. Lemay also played a hand in the goal as her free kick from just beyond midfield was partially deflected towards Bader at the top of the 18-yard box. Bader collected and had just enough space to get a shot off and into the lower right corner of the net past a diving McNalley for the goal. The score was Bader's second of the year.
That lead would hold until the 70th minute. Piedmont had been getting good opportunities for most of the half and capitalized when Madison Hatfield found Alexis Gottko in the box and Gottko got her shot past Lemay and into the net. Piedmont would have a few more chances later in the half, but the Covenant defense stood firm to force overtime.
In the first overtime, Piedmont outshot Covenant 3-1 and Cassidy Reich, the USA South Player of the Year, had a chance from inside the box but missed her attempt wide. Covenant put one on goal in the second overtime session, but Anna Robertson's attempt was saved by McNalley. That was the only attempt either team got in the final extra session before going to the shootout to determine who advanced.
Lemay made six saves on the night for Covenant, while McNalley made two. Lizzy Hightower led the Lady Scots with two shots taken and Reich led the Lions with her six attempts.
Covenant will face No. 4 East seed Methodist in a USA South Tournament semifinal on Friday, Nov. 3. Match time and location depends on the outcome of the No. 1 West seed Marvyille vs. No. 4 West seed Huntingdon on Sunday.
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