Jags 3-Peat As SBC Champs; Will Host LSU In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

November 10, 2015 · By · Filed Under NCAA, News, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · 1 Comment 
The Jaguar Soccer team earned their third-consecutive Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship and will host LSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the first time in Jag and Sun Belt Conference history. | Photo credit: Sun Belt Conference sunbeltsports.org

The Jaguar Soccer team earned their third-consecutive Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship and will host LSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the first time in Jag and Sun Belt Conference history. | Photo credit: Sun Belt Conference sunbeltsports.org

 

Jags Defeat Georgia State 4-0 For Third-Consecutive SBC Title

The South Alabama Jaguar soccer team earned their their consecutive Sun Belt Conference title with a 4-0 win over Georgia State on Sunday to punch their card to the NCAA Tournament.

Sophomore Rio Hardy scored the lone goal in the first half with help by Danielle Henley who drove a low cross to Hardy who hit it home.

Just three minutes into the second half Sophomore Chelsea Followwell hit home a loose ball in front of the net after a corner kick at the 60:36 mark.

Charde Hannah took advantage of a defensive miscue at the 63:35 mark to make it a 3-0 lead. The final score came in the 85th minute when Nini Rabsatt-Smith headed the ball into the net on a corner kick from freshman Jemma Purfield.

“I’m obviously delighted that we managed to win,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “I was really happy because usually at this time of the year, it’s about the result and not the performance, but today we put in a fantastic performance and got a fantastic result. I was really happy for the girls; it means a lot to them and to me to lift the trophy again.

“We’re scoring lots of goals and they’re coming from lots of areas,” Winkworth noted. “They really showed up today; it was maybe one of our stronger performances of the season.”

The Jags had five players named to the All-Tournament team: Sophomore Ashlynn Jones, senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith, Sophomore Rio Hardy, sophomore Charde Hannah and junior Sarah Hay. Hannah was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

“All five of them were crucial to our success, but in all honesty, we could have picked anyone that played this weekend,” Winkworth said. “Those five humble young ladies would be the first to admit that if it wasn’t for the squad that we’ve got, they wouldn’t be receiving those awards this weekend and we wouldn’t be taking the big one home.”

“We were solid from front to back,” Winkworth said. “The forwards worked hard limiting quality longballs from their back line and the midfield pressed extremely well. The defense dropped when they needed to drop and intercepted passes rather than needing to make tackles. Only once did they get in behind us, and when that happened, Sarah pulled off an excellent save on a 1-on-1. All in all, I’m very happy with the defensive performance from front to back.”

South Alabama Set To Host LSU In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

On Monday afternoon, the Jags learned their fate for the NCAA Tournament from the Division I Women’s Soccer Committee and it was not only historic for South Alabama, but also for the Sun Belt Conference.

South Alabama will host LSU for the first-round match on Saturday night. The first in South Alabama history and also the first in Sun Belt Conference history.

This will be the Jags third consecutive tournament appearance and enter the tournament with a 17-2-2 record overall and a 14-match unbeaten streak.

“This is huge,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “We’ve created something very special here. It wouldn’t have matter who they sent us, we’d have been excited to have a game on campus. We need the whole community to come out on Saturday and cheer us on.

“It will be great for our community to have such a big team coming into town. We know a lot of people will think they’re the big favorites coming from the SEC, however, we feel like we’ve got a good product here as well. We hope it’ll be an excellent game and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”

LSU (13-5-4) earned their way into the postseason for the first time since 2011 after advancing to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The Tigers lead the all-time series against USA 5-4 with wins in their last three meetings, the most recent in 2010.

With the Jaguar Football team’s game on Thursday night, the Saturday night date against LSU is a great opportunity to support the Lady Jaguars in their quest for a National Title.

Tickets are $7 for Adults, $3 for Seniors, Children between 2-12 are also $3 and Children under 2 are Free.

Student tickets are also $3 however the first 300 students are able to claim free tickets on a first-come, first served basis Saturday night when the gates open by showing a valid student ID.

Tickets can be purchased over the phone only by calling 251.461.1USA (1872). All tickets will be held for pickup on Saturday night and no tickets will be distributed before the match. Gates will open 90 minutes prior to the match.

The match is scheduled for 7pm on Saturday.

All tickets will be general admission and grandstand seating is first-come-first served. Fans are recommended to bring portable outdoors chairs with them.

GO JAGS!!

Jags Overcome 24-point Deficit To Defeat Idaho 52-45

November 8, 2015 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 
Xavier Johnson, a sophomore, rushed nine times for 148 yards and added 141 yards in kick returns for 289 all-Purpose yards including a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and a 100 yard kickoff return to open the second half for the Jaguars. | Photo Credit: Bobby McDuffie usajaguars.com

Xavier Johnson, a sophomore, rushed nine times for 148 yards and added 141 yards in kick returns for 289 all-Purpose yards including a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and a 100 yard kickoff return to open the second half for the Jaguars. | Photo Credit: Bobby McDuffie usajaguars.com

Homecoming was looking as dreary as the weather on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium as the Jaguars were facing a 24-0 deficit midway through the second quarter when the got the spark they needed. Xavier Johnson provided that spark with a 41 yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff with more to come.

The Jags would drive down to the Idaho 1 yard line and be turned away on fourth down with 2:30 left in the opening half. The Jaguar defense would then stand tall and force a three and out with the Jaguars using timeouts to force the Vandals to punt and give the Jaguars a short field with just 1:58 left until halftime.

Then the Jaguars used the spark that Johnson provided jump start a two-minute drive for points just before halftime. It began with a Cody Clements pass to Chris Lewis for 9 yards and into Idaho territory before stepping out of bounds. Terrance Timmons took the handoff four yards for the first down before Clements came back and found Marvin Shinn for 20 yards to the Idaho 25 before going out of bounds to stop the clock. Clements found Danny Woodson for 19 more yards to the Idaho 6 yard line before he too stepped out of bounds. The drive would be capped off by a 6 yard slant pass to Shinn for the touchdown. The 5 play, 58 yard drive would only take :38 off the clock but the Vandals were content to go into halftime with a 24-7 lead.

Johnson, after providing the spark to get the Jags in gear, would lit them on fire by taking the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to further cut the Vandal lead to 24-14.

After exchanging a number of punts, the Jags Josh Magee would take a Vandal punt by 22 yards before fumbling near midfield which was recovered by Idaho in front of their bench. But Blake Dees was having none of it as two plays later he forced Elijhaa Penny to fumble, which Devon Earl would pick up and scamper 57 yards to the endzone with 4:19 left in the third quarter.

The defense would keep their pace by forcing another three and out, but this time the Jaguars freshman cornerback Jalen Thompson would block the kick with Margo Reed covering it at and returning it six yards to the Vandal 6 yard line. Cody Clements would take the next snap into the endzone untouched to give the Jaguars a 28-24 lead with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

Idaho was not ready to give up as quarterback Matt Linehan would continue he passing clinic with a 32 yard strike to Hightower on third down to keep the drive alive. Three plays later Penny would take it into the endzone from 19 yards out to regain the lead 31-28 with :44 left in the third quarter to set up a fourth quarter for the Jaguar history books.

The Jags would lean on their rushing attack that began with a nine yard gain by Johnson to end the third quarter then continue with runs of 5 and 18 by Tyreis Thomas and runs of 7, 13, and 1 by Timmons before Clements took the air to find Gerald Everett for a 16 yard touchdown to give USA the lead once more with 13:14 left in the game at 35-31.

The ensuing kickoff would bounce off Idaho’s Rueben Mwehla’s shoulder pads to be recovered by Jaguars Buford-Hughes at the Vandal 9 yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct call on Shinn, in addition to a four yard loss on the play set the Jaguars back at the 29 with the goal to go. USA would settle for a 41 yard field goal by Aleem Sunanon with 11:47 left in the game to take a 38-31 lead.

The vandals would drive out to their 49 yard line before Margo Reed would make a great over-the-shoulder interception at the Jaguar 16 before going out of bounds.

Johnson would bust out a 50 yard run to the Idaho 34 yard line on the first play of the drive to set up Clements to find D.J. Vinson for a 14 yard touchdown a few plays later to put USA up by two scores at 45-31 with 7:42 left in the game.

The Vandals would only need 1:59 to answer with a touchdown of their own to make the game a one-score game again at 45-38.

Chris Lewis would return the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Jaguar 39 to set up Xavier Johnson for another huge play. Johnson would take the handoff on the first and only play of the drive 61 yards for a touchdown to put the Jaguars up 52-38 with 5:19 left in the game.

Linehan was not done either.

He would throw and run his way to the Jaguar 18 before he combined with Penny to help get down to the 1 yard line before he called his own number and took it in to cut the Jaguar lead to one score once again at 52-45.

Braedon Bowman would cover up the onside kick attempt allowing the Jaguars to take the victory formation and end the game.

Clements was an efficient 11-of-19 for 114 yards and two touchdowns while Linehan went 26-of-39 for 317 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Elijha Penny rushed 35 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Linehan added 49 yards on 8 carries and two touchdowns.

Xavier Johnson had 9 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown to go along with 141 yards in kick returns to give him 289 all-purpose yards for the game. Tyreis Thomas had 15 carries for 88 yards, Timmons added 33 yards on seven carries, Clements added 29 yards on seven carries as well.

“That was big,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones stated about the score just before halftime. “We were down on the one-foot line and didn’t score, and called three timeouts and got the ball back. We drove down and scored, and that was big; some good things happened there. You just have to keep plugging, you have to go to the next play.  What are you going to do about the last play?  Nothing — you have to move forward, and our guys learned a big lesson tonight.  I think they knew that, but they really understand it now.”

“That score really sparked us and turned our whole momentum around,” Clements added. “As a team though, we fought so hard the whole game tonight and we never let up. We knew it was a four-quarter game and that you have to play all 60 minutes. The score at the end of the game is what matters.”

“We just kept telling ourselves that we had to keep the motor going. That’s what we’ve been preaching all week,” Blake Dees commented. “You can’t ever give up. Giving up isn’t something we do here at South Alabama. Getting down like we did early kind of sucked, but we persevered and kept going and never gave up.”

“We needed to make a few changes, and just do our job,” Devon Earl added. “In the first half, I don’t think guys were doing their jobs. We came in at halftime and talked it over, and it all came together in the second half.”

“I want to commend our football players for the guts and mental toughness to be able to come back in a game like that,” Coach Jones stated. “Everything was going wrong there for a quarter-and-a-half, and we just got it turned. The big kickoff return gave us a spark, and the kids came back and kept fighting. Sometimes you can’t play four quarters of football the way you want to, and you just have to deal with it. Nobody panicked, and that was the biggest thing. Had we panicked, I think we might have lost that ballgame.

“We just beat a good team; they have a really good offense obviously. They have a great quarterback and running back, they moved the ball up and down the field. What a win for our program to be able to come back and take another step toward a bowl [game].”

“Overall, I just can’t believe it,” said Vandal head coach Paul Petrino. “I really thought we had a great game plan, and we came out and executed it really well, both offensively and defensively. You can’t give up a kickoff return for a touchdown, a blocked punt and a fumble. Even after all that, we still came back and scored twice.  We just had to get one stop, and we had the chance.

“I think everybody sees how much better we are; the program is on the right track to be a really good football team, but to have two games in a row end like that is really sad.”

Johnson’s kickoff return for a touchdown was the first since J.J. Keel in 2010. It was the first game that the offense, defense and special teams scored since defeating Pikeville on September 4, 2010. The game set a new record for largest deficit overcome in a victory surpassing the 14 point deficit the Jags overcame to defeat Florida Atlantic on October 20, 2013 for their first FBS win. It also set a record for most combined points scored with 97, surpassing the previous record by 15.

South Alabama will have a short week of preparation as they host Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday at 6:30pm in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.

Jaguar Soccer Advances to SBC Final After Penalty Kick Shootout

November 8, 2015 · By · Filed Under Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 
Sarah Hay, a junior, made two stops in penalty shootout, the second to advance the Jags to the Conference Final against Georgia State on Sunday at noon. Photo: usajaguars.com

Sarah Hay, a junior, made two stops in penalty shootout, the second to advance the Jags to the Conference Final against Georgia State on Sunday at noon. Photo: usajaguars.com

The South Alabama soccer team watched two leads slip away during regulation play but sophomore Sarah Hay made the key stop in the 11th round of penalty kicks to put the Jaguars in the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament Final over Appalachian State on Friday night.

USA, the top-seed in the tournament, for the third consecutive season to face #6 seed Georgia State who defeated Troy also on penalty kicks.

While the match goes down as a 2-2 draw and ended the Jaguars 11 match win streak, but the 13 match unbeaten streak stays alive.

There were only two misses in the shootout before Hay’s final save. Early in the shootout, App. State’s Kate Ward was stopped by Hay in the second round and sophomore Chelsea Fallowwell’s attempt was stopped by Megan Roberson in the fourth to even it up.

Jaguar freshman Jemma Purfield put the Jags up 10-9 to set up Hay for game-winning stop.

Charde Hannah put the Jags on the board first in the 25th minute after sophomore Ashlynn Jones took control of an App. State goal kick and quickly fed Hannah.

The Mountaineers would respond just over 7.5 minutes later on a free kick from Ward in the upper left corner. Both teams would go to halftime knotted at 1 goal each.

It looked as though sophomore Danielle Henley had won the game for the Jags at the 60:32 mark when a header by senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith was saved off the line but the rebound went to Henley who knocked it home.

Appalachian State managed only two shots in the next 27 minutes before a cross from the byline by Jane Cline was parried by Hay, who was unable to corral it. Then Sam Childress beat Hay to the ball and punch it in at 88:02 mark.

“I’m really pleased that we managed to find a way through to the next round, which is a characteristic the girls have shown all season long – they’ve managed to find a way, but our performance wasn’t up to scratch today,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “We need to make sure we do a better job on Sunday in the final.

“Despite not playing our best soccer though, we still managed to hit the bar, had a couple saved off the line and had a goal disallowed, so we created chances but they didn’t fall for us. At the same time, we managed to do that and not play our best soccer, so I’m encouraged knowing that there’s more to come from us.”

“We’ve got to do a better job of managing the game,” Winkworth noted. “With two minutes to go, we’re making poor decisions at the back, whether we’re playing short when it should’ve gone long, or not putting it out of play and trying to do too much out of the back. When there’s two minutes to go, you have to make quality decisions to manage the game well.

“We’ll talk about it, but to be honest, these girls have done so much for us all season, they’re all entitled to a mistake now and again. We’ll brush that off and think about all of the positives that they’ve done today.”

USA won the shots balle 23-8, including 22-6 in regulation, but only got eight on frame compared to four for the Mountaineers.

“It was opposite of the other day (in the quarterfinals), because we weren’t clinical in front of goal,” Winkworth said. “We should have put them away early in the game. The fact that it was tied at halftime, that wasn’t a fair reflection of the first half. We didn’t take our chances and we didn’t put them away; we came in at halftime disappointed to be level. But like I told the girls, we were the team on the ascendency trying to win the match, and that positive attitude will be rewarded.”

The Jags will face Georgia State at noon on Sunday for the Conference Championship. The game can be seen on ESPN3.com.

Jags Soccer Roars Past Cajuns To Semifinals of Sun Belt Championships

November 5, 2015 · By · Filed Under Softball, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

SunBeltLogo_2013South Alabama fell behind early but five second half goals closed out a blowout of Louisiana-Lafayette 7-1 Wednesday to advance to the Sun Belt Conference Semifinals.

The win was the largest ever for the Jaguar program in postseason play.

The Cajuns opened the scoring early on a loose ball in the goalmouth following a throw-in. Just 1:35 after the Cajun’s score, Rio harded headed home a cross shot from senior Alyssa Mayer. Sophomore Charde Hannah put the Jags ahead with her team-best eighth goal of the year in the 29th minute on a breakaway from sophomore Steffi Hardy.

Sophomore Ashlynn Jones recorded a second-half brace. She opened the scoring in the second half in the 57th minute on a breakaway by taking a long pass from senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith and putting a low shot past the goalkeeper.

Then just over four and a half minutes later Jones took a pass from freshman Jemma Purfield and put in the left side of the net to put the Jaguars up 4-1.

The fifth score for the Jags started with junior goalkeeper Sarah Hay gathered in a Cajun free kick then distributed it to Purfield who found Jones in the middle. Jones would pass it off to senior Jordan Duncan who slipped it past the defender to sophomroe Danielle Henley who would put it in the net from just inside the 18-yard box past the goalkeeper who was rushing the ball.

Sophie Haywood slit two defenders and found Duncan who put it in the net int he 76th minute. Junior Anisa Patterson finished off the scoring in the 84th minute off of a deflected ball from junior Nikki Shirtcliffe.

South Alabama has scored 16 goals in the last three matches. In the game, 13 of the Jaguars 16 shots found their target with seven of them coming in the second half.

“I thought we did well,” head coach Graham Winkworth said of the teams play. “We started off a bit slowly, getting used to the change in surface, but I thought the girls handled it very well. Overall, I was pleased with the result and the performance wasn’t too bad at all.

What pleased me is the level of play didn’t drop once we made a number of changes,” Winkworth saod. “I thought it was good that we were able to get everybody some playing time and we continued to play attractive soccer even after making a lot of changes. It just shows that team is not about whoever starts the match, but it’s a squad game and I was really pleased with the squad overall today.”

“Appalachian is a very good team,” Winkworth said of their next opponent. “They have a lot of depth and use a lot of numbers. They work extremely hard and are well-coached, so I think it will be a very tough game.”

The top seeded Jaguars will face #4 seed Appalachian State on Friday at 3pm for a spot in the Championship Match on Sunday against the winner between #2 seed Troy and #6 seeded Georgia State.

Preview: South Alabama vs Idaho

November 4, 2015 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Jags_vs_Idaho

After a week off to rest and heal from all the bumps and bruises that accumulate through the grind of a college football season, the Jaguars continue preparing to host a much improved Idaho team for homecoming on Saturday.

The Jags are coming off of tough 36-18 road loss to Texas State, in what was a rainy mess of a game, and look to get back on the winning side coming down the stretch.

The team and coaches can put the tumultuous month of October behind them and start fresh in November. The worst part of October was the total disruption of their schedule, it varied from week to week. They had a long layoff to play a Tuesday night game, then another long layoff to play a Saturday game. Now they hit reset on all that flipping of schedules and concentrate on a more normal game week.

Last season the Jags went to Moscow, Idaho and defeated the Vandals in the Kibbie Dome, that Vandal team finished the season 1-10. Head coach Paul Petrino has his team playing much better this year as they are sitting at 3-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play with wins over Troy and Louisiana-Monroe under their belt. Though they lost last Saturday to New Mexico State, which snapped the Aggies streak of 15 consecutive losses.

The Vandals offense has really spurred their improvement this season. Petrino, brother of Bobby Petrino, ran the offense for his brother at Arkansas and Louisville and is the same offense the Jaguars faced when USA played Western Kentucky a few years ago. Jaguar head coach Joey Jones understands it to a point, but is quick to point out that it’s very complex and they do lots of things differently, more so than any team the Jags have faced.

Texas State was a very uncharacteristic game for the Jaguars as they were hit with 10+ penalties in the first half. They had more penalties and yards in the first half than they have averaged all season long or more than they have committed in a single game all season.
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