Friday, November 7, 2008

Champion-Ship-Shape...

Time flies--the last post was Halloween, so now a week later it's a whole new month, champions have been crowned, awards have been given, and lots of stuff has been going on, so let's play a little catch-up...


First to the race courses in Lynchburg for the Conference Cross Country Championships--congratulations to Big South Champions Liberty (men) and Coastal Carolina (women)! Salutes also go to individual top finishers Sam Chelanga (LU men, pictured at right) and Zsanett Kis (HPU women). Chelanga earned an additional distinction, making the Sports Illustrated "Faces in the Crowd" feature in SI's 11/10/08 issue (Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth on the cover).


Last week's football featured an upset that may echo for a while--Presbyterian upended Liberty, giving the Blue Hose a big win while potentially damaging the Flames' chances for postseason play.


End-of-season awards went out for women's soccer, and the tournament got started in High Point with a sensational quarterfinal round on Thursday: VMI downed Winthrop, Radford got past UNC Asheville, Coastal shut out GWU, and host HPU defeated CSU (more on the tourney after the video). That sets up the Friday semifinals, with VMI-Radford and Coastal-HPU. The final game will be played Sunday afternoon. All the games are of course available on The EDGE...speaking of which, let's look at the week ahead:


video

Bonus note on the upcoming football weekend--the Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb game will get its share of attention Saturday: live coverage on MASN (and The EDGE), plus ESPN360 and availability on ESPN GamePlan, AND tape-delay coverage on SportSouth. Whew!

Okay, now let's talk about the Women's Soccer Championship at High Point. I was there Thursday for at least part of three different quarterfinal games (missed the nightcap, which is too bad, because it was a good one). Let me compliment the folks at HPU--great hosts and a wonderful venue for the event. The Vert Track & Soccer Stadium there sure makes for a fine championship setting...of course, it didn't hurt that the weather was perfect: mild temperatures and clear skies, plus a backdrop of fall colors just to complete the scene.

Most of my attention was directed to the Radford-UNC Asheville game, since I was announcing that one for The EDGE. Interesting contest--RU peppered UNCA with shots all game long, with no results until late in the second half, when Latrice Lee made a good cross to Ashley Johnson (All-Freshman Team, 2nd Team All-Conference) to break the scoreless tie...but then the Bulldogs mustered an attack in the game's final minute (Katy Beeler's goal) to send the game to overtime. Asheville had only a fraction of the offensive surge that Radford put on throughout the game, yet after 90 minutes they were deadlocked at one goal each--such is the way of soccer. The overtime period see-sawed with two tired teams trying to assert an advantage, but again it was Johnson for the Highlanders (#24 pictured at right) putting one home to take the 2-1 victory and advance to the semifinals. From my angle in the press box, I could see the opportunity she got with her shot--the ball came loose and traffic in the box opened up in front of her...the only question was could she get to the ball first--yes--game over.

By the way, if you make it to any of the Big South Championships (including women's soccer this week, men's soccer next week, and volleyball in two weeks), look for the Big South Conference Championship Photos tent. Our partners with Sideline Sports will be actively firing away with their cameras and making pictures from the tournament available for sale on-site, a perfect souvenir for family, friends, and fans! If you can't be there in person, you can still order pix by going to BigSouthSports.com and looking for the Championship Photos link on the left side.

Finally, a SHOUT-out to Coastal Carolina and Faculty Athletics Representative Sharon Thompson, winner of the South Carolina Governor's Award as 2008 Professor of the Year! Congratulations, Sharon--that's outstanding news!

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