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!!

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.

Purfield Named SBC Defensive Player of the Week; Erdmann To Chair NCAA Baseball Committee

September 2, 2015 · By · Filed Under Baseball, NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

 

Soccer

Freshman Jemma Purfield from Cottingham, England | Photo credit: usajaguars.com

Jemma Purfield, a freshman from Cottingham, England, has started every game for the Jaguars and becomes the second Jag to earn the SBC Defensive Player of the Week. | Photo credit: usajaguars.com

South Alabama freshman Jemma Purfield was named the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Soccer Defensive Student-Athlete of the week on Tuesday. She is the second Jaguar to earn this recognition this season after Charde Hannah earned it last week.

Purfield, a native of Cottingham, England, scored a goal with an assist and helped lead the Jaguar defense in two shutouts. She played all 90 minutes against Louisiana Tech in a 1-0 victory where she recorded two shots on goal as the Jag defense only allowed two shots in the match.

Two days later, Purfield scored her first career goal in a 7-0 win over Tennessee-Martin. She also added an assist as the Jag defense held UTM to only six shots to record their second consecutive shutout.

Purfield has started every game this season and played all but 22 minutes.

South Alabama, who received three votes in the latest NSCAA Top 25 poll, will host the Jaguar Classic this weekend as South Florida, Troy and Austin Peay all come to The Cage for weekend matches. The Jags will face USF on Friday at 7pm then Austin Peay on Sunday at 2:30pm.

 

Baseball/Athletics

USA Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann has served for three years on the NCAA Baseball Committee, he will chair the committee for the 2015-16 academic year.

USA Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann has served for three years on the NCAA Baseball Committee, he will chair the committee for the 2015-16 academic year.

The NCAA announced on Tuesday that University of South Alabama Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann will serve as chair of the Division I Baseball Committee for the 2015-16 academic year.

Erdmann represents the South Region in the 10-member committee just completed his third year with the group. His role serving with the committee includes helping to select and seed the field for the NCAA Tournament as well as assisting in site administration.

“I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve as chair of the committee,” Erdmann was quoted as saying. “The committee is made up of highly capable professionals who understand the core of our duty is to provide the best championship field and experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. I look forward to the upcoming year as we continue to move the baseball championship and the great game itself forward.”

As USA’s AD, Erdmann has been members of the baseball, softball, golf and tennis committees in the Sun Belt Conference. When he was AD at the University of North Alabama, Erdmann was a member of the NCAA Division II Football Committee during the 2006-07 academic year and also co-chaired the NCAA Division II Football Southeast Region Advisory Committee.

Jaguar Soccer Improves to 4-0 On Season

August 31, 2015 · By · Filed Under Soccer · Comment 

USA_SoccerThe Jaguar soccer team moved to 4-0 on the season with an impressive offensive showing against Tennessee-Martin on Sunday at the Troy Soccer Complex. This also marks the first time in school history that the Jaguar soccer team has started the season 4-0 and is unbeaten in their last 22 regular-season games (21-0-1).

Junior Monique Autmon and freshman Jemma Purfield recorded a goal and assist each. Autmon put the Jags on the board first in 9th minute. Just 46 seconds later, Autmon got an assist with Rio Hardy sending home the shot off rebound from the goalkeeper in the 10th minute of play.

Hannah Godrey put the ball in the net in the 28th minute with an assist by Nini Rabsatt-Smith. The Jags would be quiet on the scoring front until the 52nd minute when Charde Hannah recorded her third goal of the season on a penalty kick.

The Jaguars ended the game in a similar fashion as they started it: with a flury of goals. In a seven-minute span, the Jaguars scored three goals by three different student-athletes. Freshman Purfield got it started with a goal off her own rebound in the 59th minute. Then in the 63rd minute Jordan Duncan scored on an assist by Purfield. Finally in the 66th minute Danielle Henley scored on a low driven cross which gave Alyssa Mayer an assist on the day.

“I’m really happy with the performance today,” Jag head coach Graham Winkworth said. “We put in a better performance than Friday night and were patient with our play. Today we moved the ball around exceptionally well, created a lot of chances and got a lot of players forward. The seven different goal scorers emphasizes the way in which we played today but also the quality of our whole squad.”

USA had a season-high 23 shots on goal from 10 differnt players. “We probably could’ve had more shots but we were patient in our shooting; we weren’t taking a lot of shots from distance,” Winkworth noted. “A lot of those shots were from very close range and some of those goals were tap-ins because of the creativity in the play leading up to the goal. This is the first time that I think we’ve really put some quality football together in the final third.”

Junior keeper Sarah Hay made six saves in 90 minutes. The Skyhawks only managed three shots in each half as the Jaguars recorded their second-consecutive clean sheet of the season.

“All weekend we’ve looked extremely solid defensively,” Winkworth said. “Steffi (Hardy) has led the back line extremely well in the middle and Hannah has been very solid. Jemma has done a great job getting forward, and Alyssa (Mayer) and Nikki (Shirtcliffe) have done well too. We’ve got a lot of quality and defended well all weekend.”

“There’s no letting off and players were coming in off the bench and not only do they want to put in a good performance for the team but they want to make a claim for a starting position and more playing time for themselves,” Winkworth stated. “Today was no different. We had a lot of quality performances from front to back all over the pitch.”

The Jaguars will host Austin Peay, South Florida and Troy over the weekend. Troy and Austin Peay will play at 4pm on Friday, September 4 followed by the Jags and South Florida playing at 7pm. Then on Sunday, Troy will play USF at noon on Sunday followed by the Jags vs Austin Peay at 2:30pm.

Pete Tolbert Night of Champions Honors Jaguar Student-Athletes

Photo of the Moulton Tower dedication Friday Oct. 8, 2010. | Photo credit Press-Register/Victor Calhoun

Photo credit Press-Register/Victor Calhoun

South Alabama honored student-athletes Monday at the sixth annual Pete Tolbert Night of Champions at the Mitchell Center. The event recognizes the achievements, both in competition and academically, of the nearly 400 individuals who comprise the University of South Alabama athletics program.

Kaitlyn Griffith (Softball from Centre, AL) and Daniel Leitner (Men’s Tennis from Neiderfischbach, Germany) were named the Jaguar Female and Male Student-Athlete of the Year respectively, honoring the most outstanding Jaguars based on scholarship, athletic ability and citizenship.

Griffith, a senior shortstop for the softball team is hitting .296 with a team-high 11 home runs, with 38 RBI, 25 runs scored and helping the team to a 33-9 record thus far and a top-25 national ranking throughout the 2015 season. She is a three-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athlete and is set to receiver her degree in May in exercise science. She has a 3.82 cumulative GPA.

Leitner, a senior, is the reigning two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in men’s tennis. He earned the award this spring after amassing a 28-5 overall record in singles play and a 22-6 record in doubles play. He was named to the first-team All-SBC in both singles and doubles, and as the highest-rated individual in the conference, will earn a berth to the NCAA Singles Championships in May. He will graduate with a 3.89 GPA in exercise science in May.

A pair of Griffith’s teammates on the Softball team also earned awards.

Farish Beard was chosen at the school’s NCAA Woman of the Year Nominee with Blair Johnson earning the Jimmy Taylor Scholarship.

Beard, who currently has a 3.39 GPA, was selected as the nominee for that goes to a varsity letterwinner completing her intercollegiate eligibility by the end of spring sports season, who has excelled in academics, athletics, service and leadership with a minimum of a cumulative 2.5 GPA. She is also a finalist for both the Senior CLASS and 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year awards. This season she is 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 71 innings.

Johnson earned the award going to a student-athlete who holds a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, has completed their NCAA eligibility and with the assistance of the fund will graduate from USA within two consecutive semesters. She has earned All-SBC honors twice during her career and this year she is batting .254 with 12 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, and 14 walks to only eight strikeouts.

Sophie Haywood from Hull, England, earned the Auralia Crowell Freshman Scholar Athlete Awards given to the most outstanding freshman based on excellence in academics and athletics. She was named First-Team All-Conference after posting 19 points on seven goals and five assists in helping the Jaguar soccer team tow in the conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. She has a 4.0 GPA as an exercise science major.

Adam Ballew of the baseball team was awarded the Denny-Gottfried Scholarship Award that is presented to the student-athlete who has exhausted their eligibilty, maintained an outstanding GPA and achieved athletic accomplishment. In his final season at USA, he has helped the Jaguar baseball team to a 29-16 record thus far while batting .275 with five extra-base hits, 26 RBI and eight stolen bases. He is an exercise science major with a 3.38 GPA.

Derek Westbrook from Diamondhead, MS, received a pair of awards. He arned the Shirley Holt Scholarship Award as well as the Male Jaguar Athletic Fund Award. The former is given to a student-athlete who exemplifies outstanding “Team Spirit” and who has shown great character and concern for his or her fellow student-athletes. The latter recognizes overall support of Jaguar Athletics. Both awards exemplifies Derek’s contributions to South Alabama Athletics and also marks the second-consecutive year that he has garnered the JAG Award honors.

Caroline Beebe earned the Female Jaguar Athletic Fund Award. Which marks the second consecutive year that both she has earned the JAF Award as well.

Hunter Colemani was awarded the Tom and Barbara Corcoran Scholar-Athlete Endowed Scholarship Award which is given to a USA Junior who most excels in sports while maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA. The right handed pitcher has a 4.0 GPA in biomedical sciences in the classroom while on the diamond he has a 1-0 record with a 0.59 ERA with 14 strikeouts and 15.1 innings of work.

Jimmie Gipson III was awarded the Wilson Durgin Memorial Scholarship Award which goes to a minority student-athlete who has excelled in both the classroom and competition. Nikki Gittens was awarded the Female Perseverance Award after she suffered a stress fracture in her tibia that forced her to redshirt in 2013, she then returned and ranked third on the volleyball team with 243 kills and led the team with a .250 attack percentage and 83 total blocks while helping the Jags qualify for the SBC tournament despite tendinitis in her knee and hitting shoulder.

Ucambre Williams earned the Male Perseverance Award after undergoing three separate surgical procedures and requiring over six months of rehabilitation. After surgery on his right knee in September he returned in just 15 days and would go on to start 11 consecutive games while posting a team-best 90 percent overall grade and being named to the second-team All-SBC and helped the Jaguars play in its first-ever postseason bowl game.

Brandon Bridge was awarded the Mayer Mitchell Quarterback Endowment Fund Award as the Jaguars starter last fall. Matt Bolger earned the Clifton Inge Endowed Baseball Award. David Knapp earned the Forrest W. and Beverly B. Crowder Endwoed Scholarship for baseball. Mark Watts earned the McKinney Family Endowed Scholarship Fund for Track and Field. Emily Newton earned the George Smith Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund for Track and Field as well.

Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Operations Greg Keel was selected for the Matt Smith Award which goes to a member of the athletics staff who consistenly goes the extra mile, has the spirit of commitment, a strong work ethic, and a deep sense of pride in their job. The award is named in memory of former USA Sports Information Director Matt Smith who passed away in December of 2004.

Each sport program also presented awards at the event. The winners of those honors were:

  • Eddie Stanky Award (baseball), Bolger
  • Goldie Ungar Heart of Gold Award (men’s basketball), Dionte Ferguson
  • Jaguar Women’s Basketball NCAA Award (women’s basketball), Breanna Hall
  • Female Distance Award (women’s cross country), Nicole Durham
  • Male Distance Award (men’s cross country), Christoph Graf
  • Jim Yance Heart of a Jaguar Award (football), Jesse Kelley
  • Heath Slocum Award (men’s golf), Tyler Klava
  • Beth Barry Award (women’s golf), Ingrid Hagen
  • Lindsay Rogers Award (soccer), Alyssa Mayer
  • Extra Mile Award (softball), Stephanie Pilkington
  • Lubel Family Award (men’s tennis), Leitner
  • Marilyn Lubel Award (women’s tennis), Laura Matuskova
  • Most Outstanding Women’s Track & Field Student-Athlete Award (women’s track and field), Kaitlyn Beans
  • Most Outstanding Men’s Track & Field Student-Athlete Award (men’s track and field), Jan-Louw Kotze
  • Jaguar Volleyball Award (volleyball), Gittens

Prior to the naming of the Jaguar Student-Athletes of the Year, 46 current and former student-athletes who will graduate at the conclusion of the semester received gifts from the department.

Congratulations to all the award winners as well as all of the student-athletes who will earn their degrees. Thank you for representing the University in each of your respective sports with honor and character. Once a Jaguar, always a Jaguar.

Jaguar Soccer Fell to #2 Florida State 5-0 on Friday in first round of NCAA Tournament Play

November 17, 2014 · By · Filed Under NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

USA_SoccerThe University of South Alabama soccer team fell to #2 Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, 5-0.

The Jags started off strong by holding the Seminoles scoreless through the first 44 minutes of the match, but a goal with 0:38 remaining in the opening half gave them momentum which they seized and never looked back.

FSU got goals from five different players while goalkeeper Cassie Miller was forced into making only one save as the Seminoles outshot the Jaguars 23-2 and also came out on top in the corner count 11-0.

FSU’s first goal came on a header after an in-swinger from the byline just before halftime. Then in the second half the floodgates opened as they found the back of the net four more times. The first coming seven minutes into the half on a header. Eleven minutes later they added another.

The next goal game in the 73rd minute on another header with the final goal coming six minutes later.

“First of all, I want to congratulate Florida State,” said South Alabama head coach Graham Winkworth. “I think they’re one of the, if not the most well-coached and organized teams in the country, with potentially the most talent in the country as well. So congratulations to Coach (Mark) Krikorian and all the girls and staff, because they are a phenomenal squad. But I could not be more proud of my team. I know the scoreboard is the same as last year, we were kind of hoping the NCAA might send us in a different direction this year, but we were back here. I know the scoreboard says the same thing as last year, but I think the game was a little different and I think at halftime Coach (Krikorian) would admit that he was in a game, and it was a game. For 44 ½ minutes, we held them, maybe the best team in the country, so I could not be more proud of the team.”

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Jaguar Soccer Travels to FSU for the First Round of the NCAA Tournament

November 14, 2014 · By · Filed Under NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

USA_SoccerThe South Alabama soccer team makes their second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament with a familiar opponent waiting for them. The #1 seeded Florida State Seminoles.

South Alabama (19-2-1) will meet the Seminoles (18-1-1) in Tallahassee in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance where FSU won 5-0. But the Jaguars look avenge that loss.

The two schools have a history that dates back to 1996 where they have met on the pitch in Tallahassee four out of six times, with the ‘Noles holding a dominant 6-0 record.

Both teams enter the match with impressive unbeaten streaks. The Jags enter with an 18 match unbeaten streak dating back to an August 31 loss to Kennesaw State while the Seminoles are undefeated in their last 15 matches dating back to a 2-1 loss to #5 Florida on September 5.

FSU has some impressive wins under their belt this season. They defeated #10 Notre Dame 3-1 and #4 Virginia 1-0 to claim the ACC title as they went 9-0-1 in conferece play as they try to win their first National Championship.

Seven Seminoles earned All-ACC honors including offensive player of the year.

South Alabama earned the SBC’s automatic berth by winning the conference tournament with most outstanding player Charde Hannah. They outscored their three opponents in the tournament 6-1 with freshmen Hannah and Rio Hardy accounting for all the goals en route to joining three teammates on the All-Tournament team.

“We’re absolutely buzzing,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “I’m not sure many people believed when my staff and I arrived that we could go from 217 (in the RPI) in the nation to a team that’s being considered for at-large bids now. It’s a huge accomplishment for the girls and I’m really excited.

“One of the things that gets me most excited is that we’ve done it with two different squads. We inherited a good bunch of girls that just needed to be shown a few things and they worked extremely hard to get to the NCAA Tournament. In the meantime we had to recruit a new team as well, with a few of the older girls remaining. We managed to repeat and take another step forward. It’s a great feeling and we’re excited to have another crack at one of the best, if not the best, team in the nation.”

“It’s more of an experience thing. Last year we went in there starry-eyed,” Winkworth said about the difference between last year and this year. “We need to show respect to our opponents, but at the same time, we need to play without fear. We need to understand that we’re here because we’ve earned it. We deserve to be here and I’m really proud of the girls. What an opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country.”

“They’re very similar to last year,” Winkworth noted. “They’ve returned most of those players from last year. They lost a couple of key ones, but they’ve been replaced with excellent players. To be honest, they have so many talented players, they can only play 11 at one time, so it’s OK for them to have 16 or 17 top stars. We understand they have a lot of threats, not only in open play, but also from set pieces too. We have to do our very best to prepare for those as well as we can.”

“We’ve gone quite a few games without a defeat now and that’s going to breed confidence through the team,” Winkworth said. “During that period we’ve played some very good opponents, including a much-improved Sun Belt Conference. The conference ranking nationally is much higher than this time last year. For us to beat teams of that caliber before the NCAA Tournament is a big momentum builder for us, as well as a confidence boost. We’ve done it with such a young team as well; the future of this program is very bright.”

South Alabama and Florida State get underway at 6pm CST at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

Jags Travel To Face #1 Seed Florida State Friday in First Round of NCAA Championships

November 10, 2014 · By · Filed Under NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 
The South Alabama soccer team celebrates their second-consecutive SBC Tournament championship after defeating Troy 1-0. | Photo: usajaguars.com

The South Alabama soccer team celebrates their second-consecutive SBC Tournament championship after defeating Troy 1-0. | Photo: usajaguars.com

The University of South Alabama found out that they will be traveling to Tallahassee to face Florida State in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships.

With the Jaguars Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship, they knew they had an automatic bid to the tournament, but they didn’t know which way they were going. Now that they know, they can begin preparation to face one of the four #1 seeds.

The Seminoles (18-1-1) will host the Jaguars (19-2-1) on Friday, November 14 at Seminole Soccer Complex. The Noles received an automatic invitation and a #1 seed.

Last year, the Jaguars season ended with a 5-0 loss to the Seminoles in Tallahassee in the first round of the NCAA Championships. The winner of this match will face the winner between Northeastern and Boston University on November 21 on the campus of one of the participants.

The First, Second, Third and Quarterfinals will all be held on campus sites. The National Championship match will be held at FAU stadium in Boca Raton, Florida and will be broadcast live on December 7 at 1pm ET on ESPNU.

The release by the NCAA can be read here. The NCAA has an interactive and printable bracket here.

Soccer Successfully Defends SBC Tournament Title, Earn Bid to NCAA Tournament

November 10, 2014 · By · Filed Under NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 
The South Alabama soccer team celebrates their second-consecutive SBC Tournament championship after defeating Troy 1-0. | Photo: usajaguars.com

The South Alabama soccer team celebrates their second-consecutive SBC Tournament championship after defeating Troy 1-0. | Photo: usajaguars.com

The University of South Alabama women’s soccer team only needed one goal to defeat Troy 1-0 and successfully defend their Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship on Sunday.

Freshman Charde Hannah put the ball in the net in the 22nd minute of the match when she deflected a long free kick from sophomore Nikki Shirtcliffe. It was all the Jags needed to defeat Troy.

Hannah was named the most outstanding player for her three goals scored in the tournament and her 20th of the season, only one shy of the school’s single season record of 21 set in 1999.

South Alabama sets a new school record for wins in a season as they are 19-2-1 and is unbeaten in their last 18 games. They will have an opportunity to add to that total. The winner of the SBC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Troy entered the match on Sunday with a six-match winning streak and Hannah’s goal was the first one allowed by the Trojans in over 600 minutes of play.

Sophomore Sarah Hay had five saves total, four in the second half, as Troy turned up the pressure after halftime outshooting USA 7-3.

The Jaguars had five named to the All-Tournament team: Nini Rabsatt-Smith, Sarah Hay, Rio Hardy, Nikki Shirtcliffe and Charde Hannah, who was also named the Most Outstanding Player.

“My girls were fantastic,” South Alabama head coach Graham Winkworth said. “They battled. It wasn’t always pretty but sometimes teams have to win with hard work alone. We played some nice stuff, particularly in the first half, moving the ball around, but in the second half, we just had to grind it out. I’m really proud of their efforts; they’re phenomenal group and a young group, and it’s going to be a nice future for the program.

“If they’re good enough, they’re old enough, so it doesn’t matter what grade they’re in,” Winkworth said. “We’ve got good players in every age category. It’s a squad effort; they push each other all day long to get better and from one to 23, they’re a good group of girls and I couldn’t be more proud of them. This year I just sat back and watched their smiles and it’s just a great feeling as a coach.”

The only thing left is to find out where they will be playing next. And you can join them at Heroes Sports Bar & Grille on Hillcrest Road to find out where they will be playing at 2:30pm when the NCAA Tournament announcement is made.

South Alabama Soccer Plays Troy at 1pm for SBC Tournament Championship

November 9, 2014 · By · Filed Under NCAA, Soccer, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

USA_SoccerThe University of South Alabama women’s soccer team will host Troy today at 1pm in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship match at The Cage.

The Jags defeated Georgia Southern 3-0 on Friday night to earn their spot in the finals. Nini Rabsatt-Smith put the Jags on the board first with a header. Then freshman Rio Hardy scored two goals in the second half as USA cruised to the victory.

The Jags (18-2-1 and undefeated in Sun Belt play) looks to defeat the Trojans for the second time this season to successfully defend their 2013 tournament title.

Come out to The Cage to cheer on the Jaguars!

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