Belmont Abbey Tops Converse to Clinch Second Seed

Belmont Abbey junior Lindsay Connolly scored the Crusaders biggest goal of the season to date, firing home the winner at the 1:44 mark to put the Abbey up by three, a goal that broke a three-way tie in the conference standings to give it the second seed in an 11-8 win over Converse this afternoon.

The Crusaders, winners of four-straight, close out the regular season with a record of 8-6 and 4-2 in Conference Carolinas, while Converse ends its season with a mark of 5-10 overall and 1-5 in Conference Carolinas.

The Abbey win created a three-way tie in the league standings with Pfeiffer and Queens with 4-2 records. The Abbey won on the third tiebreaker by virtue of goal differential against all conference teams with a maximum of five for any match. The Abbey finished with 11, one ahead of Pfeiffer, and Queens total was seven.

The first two tiebreakers are records against the number one seed (all three teams lost to Limestone), and the second is records against non-conference common opponents (all three teams finished 1-2 against Lenoir-Rhyne, Rollins and Florida Southern). The Abbey needed to win by at least three goals today to claim the two seed.

Belmont Abbey will open the Conference Carolinas Tournament Saturday against Queens, starting around 3:00 p.m., or 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal.

The Crusaders outlasted a gritty Converse side that gave them all they could handle. Neither team led by more than three goals, and the Abbey overcame a sluggish start, trailing 5-4 at the half but outscoring the Valkyries 7-3 in the final 30 minutes.

Laura Dowd and Emily Hudgins scored the first two goals of the half to put the Abbey on top since it led 4-3 in the first half. Converse fired right back less than a minute later to tie the game at six, but the Crusaders moved ahead by scoring three unanswered goals. The third goal of the run came from Gina Colella at the 8:44 mark after she scooped up a Converse turnover in its own zone to open up a 9-6 lead.

Converse answered right back, netting back-to-back winners 22 seconds apart to chop the Crusader edge to 9-8 with 7:58 to go, but the Abbey scored the final two goals of the contest, the first from Megan Patton off of a pass from Connolly at the 6:56 mark to extend the lead to two, and Connolly's free position winner at the 1:44 mark widened the gap to three goals, the total the Abbey needed to claim the two seed.

Dowd, Connolly and Patton all led the Abbey with three goals, while Colella and Emily Hudgins had one each. Colella, Connolly, Dowd, Hudgins and Katy Connery each had one assist.

Sam Green led the Valkyries with four goals. Brianna Hoffman scored twice, while Candace Gilliland and Lindsey Reuss scored one each. Jordy Taylor had one assist. Converse goalkeeper Alexandra Gurecki made 21 saves, 14 in the second half.

The Abbey defense caused seven turnovers, as Mary Frommling led the way with two. Tory Morgan, one of three seniors honored before the game along with Dowd and Hudgins, made 11 saves.

The final tallies saw the Abbey outshooting Converse 46-22 and winning the ground ball battle 33-27. The Crusaders also won 17 out of 20 draw controls as Connolly won four, while Patton, Colella and Dowd all won three each.


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