EVANS, GA – UNC Pembroke's Christine Rolfes converted a penalty kick 20 mintues after the opening kick and that proved to be enough as the Braves captured their first PBC women's soccer tournament championship 1-0 over #10 Columbus State on Sunday in Evans. With that win, UNCP is awarded the Peach Belt's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Tournament. The tournament bracket will be announced on Monday.
The goal came about from UNCP's counter-strike offense. Christine Rolfes broke away after a Braves defensive stand and was tripped inside the 18-yard box. Rolfes, a junior from Concord, N.C., delivered the penalty kick attempt on the ground to the right side. CSU goalkeeper Bria Riancho was able to partially deflect the shot, but it ricocheted off the post and into the net.
The remaining 70 minutes of the game were spent primarily with CSU trying to answer and the Braves turning them away. CSU outshot UNC Pembroke 25-4 in the game, including 16-2 in the second half. The Cougars' best chance at equalizing the game came with 30 minutes left when a shot clanged off the crossbar and the follow-up was smothered by UNCP keeper Gina Ryan.
Ryan made seven saves in the game and was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. Riancho made one save for CSU.
The Cougars, who entered the game leading all of NCAA Division II in scoring offense, was shut out for the first time this season. The two-time defending PBC Tournament champions, the Cougars were ranked #1 in the latest NCAA regional poll and will be in next week's tournament, most likely as host.
UNC Pembroke will return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, making their third overall appearance. The Braves become only the second PBC team to win the conference tournament with three straight shutouts. The last to do so was Kennesaw State in 2003 as they won the national championship. UNCP is the first team in league history to win three 1-0 games in the tournament.
2017 PBC Women's Soccer
Maria Guzman, Young Harris
Ashlee Graham, Georgia College
Brye Epley, USC Aiken
Sara Flores, Lander
Kaela Harmon, Flagler
Brooke DeLauder, Flagler
Jessi Vaverka, North Georgia
Asa Thorsen, North Georgia
Riley Clark, Columbus State
Meghan Cottingham, Columbus State
Bria Riancho, Columbus State
Jasmine Senecal-Guzman, UNC Pembroke
Alexis Pittman, UNC Pembroke
Shannon O'Neill, UNC Pembroke
Gina Ryan, UNC Pembroke
Tournament MVP Gina Ryan