By Jo Jo Freeman, Cumberland (Tenn.) Sports Information Director
LEBANON, Tenn. – A header from Rhianne Parsons in the 88th minute off a cross from Shauna Gilpin bounced just inside the far post for the game-winner, giving 11th-ranked Cumberland (Tenn.) a 1-0 victory over No. 1 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) on Wednesday in women’s soccer action here at Lindsey Donnell Stadium-Kirk Field.
The Bulldogs (10-1-1, 6-0-0 Mid-South) defeated the Blue Raiders for the second straight time after posting a 2-1 win in the finals of the conference tournament last season. It marked the first-ever Mid-South Conference regular season loss for the Blue Raiders, who were 80-0-2 in league play since 2000 before Wednesday’s match. Lindsey Wilson had won 57 consecutive regular season matches since a draw against Georgetown College on October 26, 2004.
CU staved off a heavy barrage from the LWC (10-3-0, 5-1-0) offense in the first 20 minutes of the second half that included four corner kicks in the first 10 minutes and a host of shots and crosses, though few were on frame.
Cumberland settled down and finally was able to hold onto the ball in the middle portion of the second half and from there created a couple of scoring opportunities, but none as good as the goal-scoring play.
The Bulldogs won the ball in the midfield and Olivia Chu flicked a pass to a streaking Gilpin down the right side. The LWC defense was out of position and Parsons was all alone at the back post, just outside the six-yard box. She waited for the cross and the ball bounced one time before finding the far corner of the net, past a helpless Johanna Henrikson in net for Lindsey Wilson.
“We really found a way to gut that one out,” head coach Gavin McKinney said. “We held off the [Lindsey Wilson] pressure at the beginning of the second half, corner after corner. We really couldn’t keep possession there for a while, but were finally able to put the ball down, gain our composure and find a way to win. A great victory for our team and our program.”
That set off a frenzy among the crowd of several hundred fans in attendance for the match. Cumberland kept its composure over the final two-plus minutes and LWC’s Cecilia Ekstrand missing one final 1-v-1 chance with about 15 seconds remaining, with the shot wide of the net to the left.
Cumberland controlled play for much of the first 10 minutes of the match, but the Blue Raiders stepped up their play in the middle of the period. LWC’s Renee Hurd kept making runs down the left sideline against Michelle Ward and took five shots in the half. The best chance for Hurd was saved at the near post by Lindsay Kitson in the 25th minute and LWC kept up the pressure but was unable to create quality chances despite three corner kicks.
Cumberland’s best scoring chance of the first half came after a great strike by Taylor Nay from 25 yards in the 33rd minute, saved by Lina Jepsen. On the ensuing corner kick, Parsons’ shot was deflected by Gilpin, but that was cleared off the line by the LWC defense, keeping the match scoreless going into intermission.
Lindsey Wilson came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders after the break, taking possession and really shoving it right down the throat of the Bulldogs. LWC created four corner kicks but tested Kitson with a pair of headers by Katarina Simic and a free kick from 25 yards by Ayaki Shinada, the last of which was the only one on frame.
Cumberland’s best offense for much of the second half were long free kicks from near midfield by Nay, creating havoc in the box at times but never really turning into quality scoring chances for the Bulldogs.
Cumberland plays twice this coming weekend on the road, heading to Georgetown College on Friday for a 4 p.m. Eastern Time match before Sunday’s Noon Eastern kickoff at the University of Rio Grande.