ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – The No. 2 seeded Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters upset the top-ranked and No. 16 nationally ranked Carson-Newman Eagles by a score of 3-1 to win their first tournament championship since 2007.
In the Railsplitters' first appearance in the finals since 2013, they have broken the Eagles' 7-0 record in the SAC championship game, their potential four-peat as tournament champion, an 11-game tournament win streak, and the Eagles' five game head-to-head win streak over the Railsplitters.
Lincoln Memorial, which was ranked seventh in the latest Southeast Region poll, has won eight of its last nine matches and posted six shutouts over that span. The Railsplitters have now reeled off six straight wins. First-team All-SAC selection Itzel Ballesteros has scored a goal in each of the Lincoln Memorial's SAC tournament matches. The junior forward took part in all three goals on Sunday afternoon with a goal and two assists.
Jessica Cravero, the tournament MVP, scored both the first and last goals of the match to seal the win. The SAC Freshman of the Year scored a total of four goals in the Railsplitters' three tournament matches to earn the honor. The second-year head coach, Sean Fraser, was recently named SAC Coach of the Year and won his first conference title with the squad.
The Eagles lone goal was off the foot of Holly Talbut-Smith and was assisted by SAC Offensive Player of the Year, Magda Mosengo.
With the win, Lincoln Memorial earns an Automatic Qualifier to the NCAA southeast regionals for the first time since 2007. Preliminary first round of 2018 NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championship will begin on Friday, November 9 at campus sites. The remaining teams will await their postseason fate. Selections for the 2018 NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championship will be announced at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, Monday, November 5 via web stream on NCAA.com.
SAC All-Tournament Team
Hannah Van Eerden, Lenoir-Rhyne
Judith Verdaguer, Lenoir-Rhyne
Katie Beck, Catawba
Bailey Howell, Catawba
Holly Talbut-Smith, Carson-Newman
Magda Mosengo, Carson-Newman
Catarina Realista, Carson-Newman
Itzel Ballesteros, Lincoln Memorial
Rachel Taylor, Lincoln Memorial
Jessica Cravero, Lincoln Memorial (MVP)