Eagles fall in first round of NCAA tournament

Photo by: Lindsay HartmannJunior goalkeeper Katie Merson (0) sends a ball down the field after blocking a point.

Thomas O'Donnell

After securing Georgia Southern University women’s soccer team’s first Southern Conference Championship title last weekend, the Eagles fell to the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament over the weekend.

“We lost to a very strong Wake Forest team,” head coach Lindsey Vanderspiegel said. “We held our own for the first 60 minutes, and unfortunately with a great offensive team like that it was only a matter of time before they got one.”

With this being the first NCAA tournament appearance for the Eagles, Vanderspiegel thoroughly prepared her team.

“We prepared the way we always do as far as doing a scout about Wake Forest,” Vanderspiegel said. “But we also tried to mentally prepare them for the NCAA experience and what it offers. I felt like we were ready, and we were. We came out and held our own, playing a very defensive battle.”

Wake Forest, one of the nation’s best teams and the number three seed in the tournament, went scoreless for 58 minutes against the Eagles’ defense.

“Zoe (Van Gorder) did such a good job on defense,” Vanderspiegel said. “She did her part of shutting down their very aggressive attacks. She and Carlee (Storey) did their part to shut down one of (WFU’s) best players.”

WFU’s junior midfielder Katie Stengal recorded the first goal for the Demon Deacons against GSU’s junior goalkeeper Katie Merson. This was the first goal scored on Merson in almost 462 minutes played on the field.

For four of the Eagles’ starters, this will have been their last game on the field. Forward Storey, defender Van Gorder, defender Morgan Springer and forward Courtney Collins will be graduating this year leaving the team in the hands of the lower classmen.

“We will sincerely miss the seniors who finished their career today: Morgan Springer, Carlee Storey, Zoe Van Gorder, and Courtney Collins. They’ve been a part of setting this foundation of our success and the transition that we’ve made,” Vanderspiegel said. “We are forever grateful for their dedication to this team.”

This game concluded the Eagles’ season. The Eagles finished the 2012 season 10-8-5 with GSU’s first Southern Conference Championship title. Vanderspiegel plans to use this game as a learning experience going into next season.

“We’re still young, and this was a good experience for all of our players to play at this level,” Vanderspiegel said. “We’ve never made it to this stage before, the NCAA tournament. To get this kind of experience for our players will create dividends in the long run.”