WINGATE, N.C. – In a match between co-Peach Belt Conference champions, Columbus State scored an early goal to defeat 11th-ranked Clayton State 1-0 on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

With the victory, the Lady Cougars will face the Southeast Region top-seed Wingate in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. CSU has now advanced to the second round of the national tournament for the seventh straight season. 

"Clayton State is an excellent team and it was a tough 90-minute match," said head coach Jay Entlich. "It was huge to jump out in front but we knew that they had too many good players to go down quietly." 

Clayton State controlled the pace of play during the first seven minutes of the match. The Lakers took a corner kick with just 41 seconds off the clock while a Saidbh Collins shot attempt was block in the fifth minute. 

The Lady Cougars finally began attacking on offense taking three corner kicks within the seventh and eighth minutes. 

In the 10th minute, Kelsey Pelletier found Nicole Corcione who was streaking down the right side of the field. Corcione took the ball down to the end line before juking a defender and passing to Chelsea Person inside the box. Person fired the ball into the right upper corner to give CSU the lead with her fifth game-winning goal this season.

Columbus State was inches away from taking a 2-0 lead in the 16th minute. Corcione touched a pass with her heel into the box to Shea Wilby where she fired a shot that was on path to the net but a Laker defender kicked it to safety. 

Coming out of the break, freshman goalkeeper Maylyn Parsons had to make her first save of the match diving forward to corral an attempt just with three minutes into the second half. 

From that point on, it was all about the goalkeepers. Charlotte McCormack made the first great save of the match denying Kelsey Pelletier of a goal in the 59th minute. McCormack had to dive to her right to keep the match at 1-0. 

After sending a shot high of the net in the 64th minute, Melissa Hetherington would have tied the game in the 67th minute if it wasn't for a diving save from Parsons. Parsons had to dive to her right to deflect the shot with her hands and save the CSU lead. 

"That was the save of the year," commented Entlich. "Who knows what would have happened if that goal went in." 

The two sides exchanged possessions over the final 20 minutes of action as the Lady Cougars held on for the victory. 

Parsons made two saves in the match recording her fifth shutout of the season. Parsons, a freshman, is now 6-3-0 on the season. 

With the loss, McCormack falls to 11-3-7 after making three saves on four attempts.