Lady Hornets booters’ historic season ends in Columbia

COLUMBIA, S.C. (bamastatesports.com) – It should be a season that the Alabama State women’s soccer team will remember for the rest of their lives.

After winning its’ first ever SWAC soccer championship in school history, the Lady Hornets took in all that surrounded them by playing in its’ first NCAA Tournament.

They’ll remember the sights of playing in Eugene E. Stone III Stadium, the excitement of the NCAA watch party selection party in finding out who they’d play next, the extra media attention with cameras and tape recorders all around and the feeling of playing as one of the 64 best teams in the nation.

Their historic season ended on Friday night in a 7-0 defeat in the NCAA First Round match against No. 1 seed South Carolina (19-1-1), who entered the postseason ranked as the No. 2 team overall in the nation.

South Carolina looked the part as it took an early lead when Gamecocks’ junior striker and top scorer Savannah McCaskill put them on the board first in the eighth minute and also tallied three assists.

Chelsea Drennan also added one goal and three assists as well to pace SC.

“It was a great experience for us to finally win the conference,” said ASU head women’s soccer coach Jodie Smith.

“It brings a great crowd, and a great experience.  How can you not enjoy that? Despite the loss, I’m proud of the things that we did and accomplished.  We can build on this.  It certainly opens up other doors.  Good players want to come to winning programs.”

Players also discussed their time in the NCAA Tournament.

“As a senior, this was my first time here so I was really excited to be a part of history and win our conference and come here,” said defender Kayla Edwards.

“It’s definitely a great experience,” said forward Lexi Krieger.

“We are looking forward to next year.”

Seniors Aaliyah Lewis, Edwards and Ally Murphy all played their final game.

Aa. Lewis finishes her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 57 goals and 33 assists.

Alabama State (11-10-1 overall) has had a steady progression to get to this point.

While the program started in 2004, it went through winless seasons and did not have a winning year until 2013 when it went 14-7.

Since that time, the team won 11 matches in 2014, nine in 2015 and now 11 in 2016.

It represents a solid mark of consistency (45 wins in the past four seasons) to average 11.25 wins per season during this stretch.

Add a SWAC championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance to the list.