KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Top seeded and second-ranked Carson-Newman will head to its first ever National Championship after knocking of third seed and No. 23 UC Colorado Springs by a final of 2-1 on Thursday afternoon.
The Eagles (21-0-1) are the first team ever in any women's sport in the South Atlantic Conference to make it to the national title game.
With the win, it notches the 21st of the year, setting a new program record previously set in the 2009 campaign.
Although the Mountain Lions (17-5-1) season comes to a close, the National Semifinal appearance came in their first ever trip to the NCAA tourney. Their 17 victories shattered a previous program record of 13.
Early opportunities for UC-Colo. Springs came aplenty, putting the Eagles on their heels early who were looking swing the momentum.
"They caused some problems for us early and it genuinely took us about 25 minutes to get rid of anxiousness or nerves or whatever it was," Duffy explained. "Once we settled in, I thought we really came into our own."
Magda Mosengo, who had seven goals through three NCAA tournament games, came through for C-N on a brilliant header in the 42nd minute.
A cross from freshman Emilee Futrell found the head of the London, England native at the edge of the 18-yard box as the flick towards the goal passed the outstretched arms of 6'0" goalkeeper Taylor Proctor, glancing off the crossbar and falling into the top left corner of the net.
It was just the third first half goal allowed by the Mountain Lions all year.
"She was able to be a player and put a good ball in," Mosengo said. "If i'm honest I didn't think I was going to get enough power behind it but my teammates said I approached the ball with conviction. Just pleased it was the goal that gave us a little momentum."
In the 71st, minute all eyes were on Mosengo who flipped an beautiful pass forward to the freshman Futrell who had open real estate to work with. The product out of Wilson, N.C. moseyed her way up to the 18-yard box and finessed a shot along the ground past Proctor, collecting her ninth tally of the season.
Moments later, the Mountain Lions found some life when junior Anna Gregg unleashed a 40-yard rocket that got past Eagles goalkeeper Jackie Burns, marking the first goal conceded for the Eagles in the 2017 NCAA Championships. It was Gregg's fifth goal of the season and just the 11th goal Burns has allowed in 22 games.
Futrell's strike was credited as the game winner, the first of her career which move the forward into a third-place tie on the team with 21 points.
UCCS frantically tried to find the equalizer down the stretch but it was the sophomore Burns coming up with her biggest saves of 2017 to keep the edge in favor of C-N. Most notably, the native of Cookstown, Northern Ireland stopped back-to-back shots from senior Bailee Jameson right on the door step in the 78th minute, before C-N defenders stepped in to block another attempt and clear the ball out of harms way.
"I was able to exhale with about 10 second to go," Duffy mentioned. "These girls are going to find ways to win and Jackie is an all-american in my book, She just helps steady the ship and I'm sure she'd say the same thing about the four defenders in front of her."
The Mountain Lions led in the shot category 15-12 which is the only time the Eagles have been outshot by their opponent all season.
The Eagles will face No. 1 seed Central Missouri (25-0) in the National Championship Final on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.