Gebreyesus' goal hands Belmont Abbey opening-round victory
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Belmont Abbey junior forward Ananda Gebreyesus scored the only goal of the match just 38 seconds into the first overtime to send the Crusaders into the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 1-0 win against Lenoir-Rhyne Friday in Columbus, Ga. The Crusaders advance to face the host Columbus State Cougars Sunday in the second round as they improve to 12-9-1. Lenoir-Rhyne, seeded third in the region and ranked ninth nationally, ends its season with a mark of 16-2-2.
Lenoir-Rhyne was unbeaten in its last 15 matches and had not lost since Sept. 9, a home loss to Columbus State. Lenoir-Rhyne had also won three of the last four meetings in the series, which the Abbey now leads by a count of 9-5-1. The last Abbey win prior to Friday came on Sept. 15, 2008. Eleven of the 15 meetings between the two schools have been decided by one goal.
The win is the Abbey's first in the NCAA tournament since Nov. 14, 1999, a 3-2 win against Presbyterian in a match that the Abbey trailed 2-0. The Crusaders had lost their last four matches in the NCAA tournament until Friday. Belmont Abbey is now 3-5 all-time in the NCAA tournament.
Lenoir-Rhyne outshot the Abbey 24-5 including 12-1 in the first half as it controlled most of the match. Its best scoring chance came in the first half as a Bears shot banged off the crossbar and deflected over the net. Abbey goalkeeper Hannah Kohls made 12 saves.
The second half was more evenly played as the Crusaders turned up the offense late. With under a minute left, Gebreyesus had a chance to put the Abbey ahead when she got behind the Lenoir-Rhyne defense and was left with a one-on-one with goalkeeper Caitlin Scruggs. Scruggs came out to challenge and, along with a trailing L-R defender,knocked the ball away at the last second before Gebreyesus could get a shot off. The clock wound down and the two teams entered sudden death overtime.
The sudden death overtime lasted 38 seconds. Belmont Abbey controlled the kickoff and sent a long ball down to the right flank, where Gebreyesus flagged it down. After gaining possession, she sidestepped a defender, and fired a turning, left footed shot from 25 yards out that sailed over the head of Scruggs and into the top left corner of the net for her fourth goal of the year.