EVANS, GA – The University of North Georgia scored two second-half goals and then held on as Clayton State attempted to rally in a 2-1 win in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament in Evans, Ga. With the win, the Nighthawks (14-3-1) advance to the tournament championship game on Sunday against Columbus State. That game will begin at 3:30 pm at Blanchard Woods Park.
Neither team was able to figure out their opponent's defense in the scoreless first half. North Georgia controlled possession for the majority of the period and held a 7-3 shot advantage after 45 minutes.
The Nighthawks were finally able to break through at the 50:44 mark. Clayton State keeper Charlotte McCormack saved Mollie Arrendale's shot, but McCormack was not able to control the rebound. UNG's Rachel VanHorn was charging in and put home the loose ball for a 1-0 lead.
The margin remained a single goal for the next 30 minutes until the Nighthawks broke through again. Brynn Finneran completed a long run down the left side where she fed a through pass to PBC Player of the Year Cicely Taliaferro. Taliaferro needed only one touch to put the ball in the side netting for a 2-0 lead.
The second goal seemed to energize Clayton State, who created their best scoring opportunities of the game in the final five minutes. The Lakers (12-8) took a corner kick in the 85th minute. A loose ball was collected by Lucy Cunningham, who was then fouled in the box leading to a penalty kick. Cunningham converted, cutting the UNG lead in half. The Lakers attempted to apply more pressure after the score, but the Nighthawks were able to maintain possession and run the clock out.
North Georgia dominated the stat sheet, outshooting Clayton State 18-7 and holding a 5-3 edge in corner kicks. UNG keeper Mallory Sayre made six saves on the night while McCormack finished with seven.
The North Georgia/Columbus State championship is a rematch of the 2010 final, UNG's only other championship appearance. The winner of the PBC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.