Braves soccer falls to Flagler in NCAA opener

Staff report

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Just 22 seconds into the second half was all it took to break a 45-minute scoring drought when Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year Andrea Fernandez sent one into the back of the net and helped No. 18 Flagler to a 2-1 victory over the UNC Pembroke soccer team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Braves (15-5-0, 11-1-0 CC) finish the season as one of the top scoring offensive teams averaging 22.8 shots on goal per game and 8.6 corner kicks per game. The Saints (16-2-1, 7-2-0 PBC) will play the winner of Columbus State and Mount Olive.

Josefine Nilsen played the ball from the start of the half that placed Andrea Fernandez into the box who poked a shot into the back of the goal in the 46th minute.

Andrea Fernandez shielded the Braves defense and set up Annie Habeeb who fired off a shot from 30 yards out in the 56th minute to the high and to the right side of Chiara Coppin for the Saints’ second goal.

Ashleigh Harris capitalized on a penalty kick in the 62nd minute as a result of a Flagler foul inside the box to put UNCP on the board.

Harris netted her fifth goal of the season, but her first since Oct. 9 against King. Harris attempted a team-high four shots, with two of those being on target.

Conference Carolinas Player of the Year Rilee Seering fired off three shots, with one being on goal.

Seven UNCP players — Alexis Pittman, Rilee Seering, Brianna De Coteau, Kennedy Rucker, Nicole Cook, and Chiara Coppin — played all 90 minutes of the contest.

Flagler held a slight 12-10 advantage in shots during the contest. The Saints also edge the Braves 7-5 with shots on goal.

UNCP saw 10 different chances from corner kicks and limited Flagler to just three.

The Saints hold the series matchup 8-4-2 when playing the Braves.