PBC Tournament: Armstrong Rallies to Beat Lander 3-2 in Overtime
EVANS, Ga. - Junior forward Nadima Skeff netted the "golden goal" in overtime to send the No. 19-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University women's soccer squad to a 3-2 victory over Lander in the 2011 Peach Belt Conference tournament semifinals and a berth in the championship match on Sunday.
The top-seeded Pirates (14-2-3) will now face third-seeded Columbus State - four-time PBC tournament champions - in the championship at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday at Blanchard Woods Park. Columbus State advanced to the finals with a 3-0 win over No. 13 North Georgia on Friday. Fourth-seeded Lander (13-5-1) sees its season come to a close with the loss.
Armstrong had to battle back from an early deficit as the Bearcats scored twice in a two-minute span midway through the first half. Lander's Christina Barbour chipped the ball over the head of Pirate keeper Meghan Mayville in the 25th minute, then two minutes later, Kimberly Kesler's shot from 10 yards out beat Mayville for a 2-0 lead. It was only the third time this season that the Pirates have stared down a two-goal deficit, and the first time since September 14.
The Pirates started the comeback late in the second half. Senior Kelli Bahr rammed home a rebound off of an Erin O'Rourke shot in the 44th minute to make the score 2-1, then the Pirates capitalized on an own goal by the Bearcats with just four seconds before halftime that equalized things at 2-2.
In overtime, each team had one shot, testing the other's goalkeeper. Danielle Fey's shot in the 95th minute was stopped by Lander keeper Chelsea Beetch, while Lander's Christina Barbour was stopped by Mayville in the 96th minute. Only 65 seconds away from a second overtime period, Skeff delivered a shot from 15 yards out that beat Beetch and sent the Pirates into the finals.
"What a tremendous battle between two great teams," Armstrong head coach Eric Faulconer said. "Lander dominated the game in the first half and we quickly found ourselves down 2-0. We made mass substitutions midway through the half and the players off the bench brought tremendous energy and pulled the game even before halftime.
"Skeff's game-winner was a moment of brilliance. She is a special player and that goal will go down as one of the best in the history of our program. This team is so resilient. They have been battle tested and that is why we play the schedule we do. They have seen it all year and I think that experience paid off tonight."
Armstrong outshot the Bearcats, 17-7, for the match, while Beetch made 10 saves for Lander and Mayville came up with five stops for the Pirates. Armstrong enjoyed a 7-3 edge in corner kicks, while Lander was whistled for 15 fouls, compared to 11 for the Pirates.
The matchup on Sunday features the previous five Peach Belt Conference tournament winners, and pits the Pirates and the Cougars in the final for the third time in tournament history. In 2006, the Cougars won the title on penalty kicks, 4-2, after a 1-1 draw. In 2007, Columbus State netted the winner in overtime for a 2-1 victory.
Visit the official tournament website here.