ROCK HILL, S.C. – No. 16 and top-seeded Carson-Newman fell in the South Atlantic Conference Championship for the first time in eight appearances as second-seeded Lincoln Memorial topped the Eagles 3-1 at Manchester Meadows on Sunday afternoon.
LMU (14-4) claimed their first league championship since 2007, a year after they became a member of the SAC. The victories leading up to the title came over Queens (2-1) in the quarterfinal and Lenoir-Rhyne (2-0) in the semifinal.
"To be honest I thought it just wasn't our day," Coach Simon Duffy said. "Fair play to LMU today they were just clinical in front of the net. I don't think we wanted it enough today but we'll live to fight another day. I hope we've done enough on the season in order to get recognized as one of the top seeds in NCAA's. You could very well see Lincoln Memorial again next weekend. It's very realistic but unfortunately it wasn't our best day today."
C-N (14-4) looked to become the first team in the history of the conference to repeat as champions for the fourth-straight season. The program had not allowed three goals in a SAC title match since its inception in 1991, and had only allowed three or more a total of five times in their 38 tournament games played.
LMU struck on just its second shot of the game in the 22nd minute as SAC Freshman of the Year winner Jessica Cravero netted the ball in the upper left corner on a boot from the right side of the box for her 16th goal of the season.
Sean Fraser's group would then take advantage of a failed clearance in the 28th minute as Itzel Ballesteros cleaned up the loose ball and pushed it into the empty cage for her 10th of the year.
C-N was able to get within a goal just over three minutes later with Magda Mosengo's through ball hit Holly Talbut-Smith in stride up the middle of the box. The senior forward took one touch and finished into the bottom right side of the net for her fifth of the season.
With Mosengo's seventh assist of the year, she has now collected points in 15-straight games in which she has played.
The score remained 2-1 heading into the break, marking just the fourth time this season C-N trailed after the first 45 minutes.
It was an underwhelming second half in terms of offense from both sides saw just four shots combined until Cravero came through for the second time of the day in the 81st minute. A free kick opportunity for the Railsplitters hung in the box as the freshman was able to settle the ball down and volley it into the back of the twine.
Mosengo was held to her second lowest shooting output on the season with just three shots on the afternoon. Duffy's group held the advantage in the shot category 16-7, just the third time this season C-N fell when leading in the stat. In all three losses, the Eagles have held the opponent to single-digit shots.
"Magda has been sick the last few days unfortunately," Duffy said. "They did a really good job not letting her turn and I'd like to say they did their homework on her but pretty much everyone knows who she is by now. It was just too much of a hill for us to climb, we tweaked the formation a little bit at the end but I just didn't think we wanted it enough. That's just a bit disappointing from our end."
Three Eagles were named to the SAC's All-Tournament team, two of which were repeat winners. C-N's lone goal scorer Holly Talbut-Smith received the honor for the first time in her four-year career with the goal and one assist over the three tourney games. Mosengo and Realista were named to the team for the second-straight year with Mosengo collecting four goals and two assists. Realista grabbed one assist over the trio of matches.
Duffy's squad will await its fate for the NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Selection show slated for Monday, Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. C-N was second in the latest NCAA region rankings. The top two teams in the region will host the first round of games.
2018 SAC All-Tournament Team`
Hannah Van Eerden, Lenoir-Rhyne
Judith Verdaguer, Lenoir-Rhyne
Katie Beck, Catawba
Bailey Howell, Catawba
Holly Talbut-Smith, Carson-Newman
Magda Mosengo, Carson-Newman
Catarina Realista, Carson-Newman
Itzel Ballesteros, Lincoln Memorial
Rachel Taylor, Lincoln Memorial
Daisy Drake, Lincoln Memorial
MVP - Jessica Cravero, Lincoln Memorial