Lee wins fourth NAIA title in row

Lee wins fourth NAIA title in row

December 4th, 2011 by Staff Reports in Sportlocal

DECATUR, Ala. -- The Lee University women's soccer team scored twice in the first 24 minutes and went on to beat Concordia of Oregon 3-0 in the 2011 NAIA championship game Saturday evening, giving coach Matt Yelton's Lady Flames the unprecedented achievement of a fourth national title in a row. Lee, seeded third, wound up 23-2 with 20 wins in a row by beating the team it edged 1-0 in the season's first game in late August. Ashley Aragona scored from a Leah Fortune assist and crossed to Fortune for the early 2-0 lead, and Aragona, who had turned an ankle in Friday's semifinal win over No. 2 Azusa Pacific, scored again at 61:24 from an Amy Cochran pass. The Lady Flames outshot eighth-seeded Concordia (19-5-1) 21-9. Leah Wilson made two saves in Lee's 10th consecutive shutout and 18th for the season, and the Lady Flames wound up with an overall 122-10 scoring margin. Aragona was named the tournament MVP and Fortune was chosen the event's top offensive player, and Lee teammates Jamie Achten, Ode Fulutudilu, Caroline Scales and Laura Thacker joined them on the all-tournament team. "It's been an incredible year with this team, but our defense deserves so much credit," Yelton said. "They often get overlooked, but the fact is we have given up one goal in our last 15 national tournament matches, and if you don't give up goals it's hard to get beat." Specifically about his fourth set of NAIA champions, the 10th-year Lee coach said, "This team is special, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of a team that has done things the right way all year long. I have had a lot of great teams and special players, and it's hard to compare teams from year to year, but I've certainly enjoyed this one and feel blessed to have been a part of this team." He praised Aragona for "an incredibly gutsy performance" and said he "was within five minutes of not even playing her, but I'm pretty sure she would have fought me to get onto the field if I had told her she wasn't playing."

• Senior captain Jamie Achten and juniors Caroline Scales, Clair Lanter, Kim Conrad and Amy Cochran from the national-champion Lee University soccer team were among their sport's 2011 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes for having grade point averages of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Scales is a Baylor School graduate; Lanter is from Soddy-Daisy. Bryan College seniors Katherine Nelson from Mentone, Ala., Carli Brown, Shannon McGowan and Yuri Lopez and Tennessee Wesleyan senior Jordan Hendrix also were Scholar-Athletes. Men's soccer Scholar-Athletes included Bryan seniors Lee Rickman and Sebastian Fischer, junior teammate Tom Hemmings, Lee junior Sias Reyneke from Cleveland High and senior Gilbert Ruiz, Shorter senior Stan Nizamutdinov from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Tennessee Wesleyan senior Grant Beeler and junior Justin Walker.


• SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Third-seeded Lee University lost a tough five-set match Saturday to second-seeded Texas-Brownsville in the NAIA national tournament semifinals, 25-20, 20-25, 19-25, 25-11, 15-12. That ended a 28-match win streak for the Lady Flames (34-3), completing a third consecutive season in the NAIA final four and a second in a row sharing third place. They had lost 3-0 on Sept. 9 to UT-Brownsville, which beat top-seeded Concordia (Calif.) 25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 25-20 for the championship late Saturday night. Lee's Arlene Ferreira had 15 kills, 13 digs, two solo blocks and seven block assists against her old team, and Marija Zelenovic had 13 kills while Stephanie Todd and Irene Ojukwu combined for 15. Also for Lee, Gretchen Higdon had 25 assists and matched Sarah Smith and Todd with 15 digs each, while Kelsey Leffew had 23 assists. The Scorpions' Danika Markovic and Vanja Joksic recorded 16 kills each, Markovic with 17 digs and Joksic with the match-ending kill, while Ana Guerra added 15 kills and 13 total blocks and Amber Brooks contributed 57 assists and 23 digs. Brooks had 54 assists in the championship win, when Guerra and Markovic had 20 and 18 kills.

• Ooltewah High School graduates Gretchen Higdon and Sarah Smith and fellow Lee University seniors Stephanie Todd, Christa Hutchison and Courtney Culbreath from the volleyball program that has had three consecutive final-four national finishes also were 2011 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes for grade point averages of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Also making that team were Bryan College senior Chelsie Blackburn from Walker Valley High School and Lady Lions teammates Laura Adams and Jessica Jones and Shorter University junior Leslie Welch from LaFayette, Ga.


• The Chattanooga Lookouts are selling flexible packages of seven, 14 and 21 tickets for the 2012 season at AT&T Field. Fans may select numerous options within those packs, including games that feature fireworks and special entertainment. "We are very excited to introduce the multi-game packs," Luis Gonzalez, the director of ticket operations, said in a team release this past week. "These new packages will give Lookouts fans the opportunity of picking from the best seats in the house for their desired number of games, while experiencing the comfort of saving money at the same time." The 14- and 21-game packs include weekend options. Anyone interested can visit lookouts.com or call 267-4849. The first home game is April 5 against the Tennessee Smokies.


• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball coach Wes Moore will be the guest speaker for the Chattanooga Quarterback Club's noon luncheon meeting Monday at Finley Stadium, and the public is invited. Attendance costs $10 with a meal, $4 without.

• Ish Sanders from Cleveland scored 24 points on 5-of-9 3-point shooting in Carson-Newman's 83-74 South Atlantic Conference men's basketball loss Saturday at Wingate. He had 16 points and six rebounds in a 74-66 home victory Wednesday against Catawba.