October 26, 2011
Soccer Wins SoCon Regular Season Title; Receives Other Accolades
The Samford University soccer team secured its first Southern Conference regular-season championship Sunday as the Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Southern Eagles 1-0 at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium. Samford's Adrianne Mancino scored the game-winning goal in the 20th minute.
"This was a great win for us because Georgia Southern is a really good team," said Samford head coach Todd Yelton. "Lindsey (Vanderspiegel) has done an outstanding job with them. They are very well-organized, they are difficult to break down and we were really happy to get the win."
With their sixth-consecutive victory, Samford (10-5-2, 8-0-2 SoCon) remained undefeated in conference play and secured the SoCon regular-season title when second-place UNCG lost at Appalachian State on Sunday, 2-1. The Bulldogs have accumulated 26 points in conference play this season and are four points ahead of both UNCG and College of Charleston, with one match remaining for every team.
Even if Samford was to lose at home against Chattanooga on Wednesday, neither UNCG nor College of Charleston would be able to get more than 25 points.
The Bulldogs' regular-season championship marks the first SoCon title in school history and Yelton's fifth at Samford. As members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Bulldogs won four-consecutive regular-season titles from 2003 and 2006.
"This is a great feeling, especially because we knew coming into this league how difficult of a challenge it would be," Yelton said. "This conference is very tough and there are tremendous coaches throughout this league. This was definitely quite an accomplishment for our team and I'm extremely proud of all of our players."
Samford also secured the No. 1 seed in next week's SoCon Tournament. The Bulldogs will host a first-round match Oct. 30, as they square off against the eighth-seeded team in the tournament at 4 p.m. (CDT) at Bulldog Field.
Despite the loss, Georgia Southern (6-9-2, 4-5-1 SoCon) secured a spot in the SoCon Tournament after Western Carolina, Wofford, Appalachian State and Chattanooga were all defeated Sunday.
Samford tallied its lone goal of the match at exactly 19:38 in the first half. The Bulldogs' decisive score was notched by Mancino who rifled a shot into the corner from nearly 40 yards out. On the game-winning play, junior Kaley Blanton sent a throw-in to Mancino on the right wing. She gathered the pass, took a step to her right and then unloaded a line-drive shot and perfectly found the corner of the net.
The goal was Mancino's second of the season.
"She really hit that one well and there wasn't much the goalkeeper could do on it," Yelton said. "When she strikes the ball right, there's always a chance she can score and I certainly think she's the best right back in the league. If she's not the best then she's certainly in the conversation."
Following Mancino's early goal, Samford's defense stepped up and only allowed a total of six Georgia Southern shot attempts. The Bulldogs rattled off 14 shots Sunday and also won the corner-kick battle 6-2.
"We were really good in defending, but we have to do better in possession," said Yelton. "We didn't connect as many passes as I would have liked, but I'm very proud of this defense and how they keep throwing up zeros. I also think they are gaining confidence as the season has gone on, because if you look at our preseason, we were a bit leaky in the back, so I'm happy with the way they've improved."
The Bulldogs' senior goalkeeper Alyssa Whitehead registered her sixth shutout of the 2011 season Sunday and improved her school-record total in the category to 32. The previous career record in shutouts was held by former Samford-great Crystal Royall, who finished with 24.5.
"At the time, I didn't think that Crystal's shutout record would ever get broken, because she was a tremendous goalkeeper," Yelton said. "For Alyssa to have 32 shutouts is pretty amazing and we're not done yet this season. She's averaging eight shutouts a year right now and that's unbelievable. The amazing thing is that (Assistant Coaches) Jay (Yelton) and Andy (Stoots) have been such a big part in our goalkeeping this year. I think our players really realize how fortunate they are to have such great assistants that are on staff here."
With Sunday's victory, Samford reached the 10-win plateau for third straight season and for the ninth time in 10 seasons under Yelton. The Bulldogs also remained undefeated against Georgia Southern and improved to 6-0-1 against the Eagles.
The Samford University soccer team will next be in action Wednesday at 7 p.m. (CDT) as the Bulldogs play host to the Chattanooga Lady Mocs in their regular-season finale to be held at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium.
- Samford Soccer Ranked No. 10 In NSCAA Southeast Regional
- Bulldogs' Mancino Named To College Soccer 360 National Honor Roll