Lady Chants win to reach Big South tourney semis

ccuwsoc-huddleFollowing up on its best regular-season conference finish in four years, the Coastal Carolina women’s soccer program took another step forward Sunday afternoon, notching a 2-0 victory over UNC Asheville in the Big South tournament quarterfinals.

Attacking Player of the Year Kacey Kelley and fellow senior Shelby Evans each tallied a goal and an assist as the Chanticleers (11-7-2) claimed their first conference tournament victory since 2008. Second-seeded Coastal will take on No. 3 seed High Point in a 7 p.m. semifinal match on Friday, Nov. 7 at Bryan Park in Greensboro. The Chants’ 11 wins this season are also the most since that 2008 campaign.

As it did in the teams’ regular-season matchup, Coastal dominated play against UNC Asheville, but this time found the back of the net twice. Kelley scored her 12th goal and fourth game-winner of the season in the 35th minute and Evans’ fourth of the season in the 69th minute sealed it.

The Chanticleers outshot the Bulldogs 25-7 in the game, including 18-2 in the first half, and could have easily had a few more goals. Kelley got loose on a breakaway in the 18th minute, but Asheville keeper Heather Muller held her ground and was able to stop a low shot. Less than four minutes later, Evans got a head on a ball following a corner kick and it was headed for the left post, but defender Katie Tuorto was there to block it away.

Several minutes later, Coastal used several passes through the midfield to spring Amber Adams up the left wing and she crossed to Kelley for another shot, but Muller made an acrobatic dive to her right to make another save. The honorable mention all-conference keeper then used her 5-foot-10 frame again minutes later, leaping to tip a shot by Brianna Panico over the crossbar.

Undaunted, though, the Chants kept the pressure on and finally broke through on their 11th shot of the game. Evans made a great move to get away from her defender along the sideline, carried the ball up the right side and sent a cross into the box. Kelley was there and her one-time shot beat Muller to the left side of the net. The 12 goals are the most by a Chanticleer since 2005.

Asheville’s best scoring chance of the game came in the 54th minute. Leading scorer Amanda Dailor hit a good free kick from 25 yards out that was curling toward the upper left corner, but Coastal goalkeeper Becca Austin was able to jump and make the most difficult of her four saves in the game.

Muller made another diving stop on a Kelley shot three minutes later before Evans made it a two-goal lead. Just over a minute after entering the game, Camille Christie took a free kick from the midfield. She sent a good ball into the left side of the six-yard box and Kelley got up in the air and headed it over to Evans, who put it in the empty right side. The assists were the fifth of the season for Kelley and the first second for Christie. Kelley upped her point total to 29 for the year, tying Kristina Fisher for the fourth-most in program history.

Asheville only threatened once after that, but Caroline Houser’s shot in the 86th minute went wide. Coastal totaled 11 shots on goal, compared to just four for the Bulldogs. Kelley racked up nine shots and put seven of them on net. Evans and Panico each had four shots.

Austin notched her sixth victory and second solo clean sheet, while the Chants have shutouts in their last five home contests against Big South teams and finished the season 9-1 overall at CCU Soccer Stadium.

Coastal prevailed over High Point 1-0 in overtime in the regular-season meeting. No. 1 seed Liberty and No. 4 seed Campbell also won on Sunday and will meet in the first semifinal.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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