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Eagles advance to final four of SoCon tourney

    Calvin Simon's goal in the 43rd minute of the first half proved to be the game winner, and the Georgia Southern soccer team held off a furious second half attack from Davidson to advance to the final four of the Southern Conference soccer tournament for the first time since 2001 with a 2-1 win Saturday at Eagle Field.
    "Exciting, exciting," said GSU first year head coach Kevin Kennedy, who was named the Southern Conference coach of the year on Saturday. "That was one of our goals in the preseason and we knew that being at home for the first round of the tournament would be a big step toward that (goal)."
    The Eagles finished the 2005 conference season at 1-6 and in a tie for last place when the season ended. This year GSU finished at 4-1-2, good enough for the second seed and a chance to open the SoCon tournament at home.
    Southern came into the second half with a 2-0 lead, but was on its heels for the final 45 minutes as the seventh-seeded Wildcats continued to attack.
    Freshman Charlie Reiter scored his first goal of the season in the 64th minute when he turned and fired from just outside the left corner of the penalty box to cut the lead to 2-1.
    "We talked at halftime and knew they were going to change some things," said Kennedy. "Davidson really had the momentum after that goal and I was hoping for a counter goal and we had a number of opportunities but we just could not get one."
    Southern's best chance for a second-half score came with just 1:27 left when Jason Tindall's shot hit off the crossbar. The Eagles sat back and waited for a chance to counter attack, but couldn't finish a number of chances.
    Davidson's best chance to tie came at the 84-minute mark when a Reiter volley was pulled down by keeper Adam Webb. Webb allowed his first goal in conference play since a 2-1 loss to Charleston on Oct. 5, saving three shots on the day.
    The Eagles got on the board in the first half when Jon Cox took a pass from Tindall outside the penalty box and planted it in the back of the net in the 33rd minute. Just under 10 minutes later, Simon scored the game-winner.
    "It was all Tindall," said Simon, a senior. "I made a run across to create some space for him and he just ran ahead and slipped the ball through to me. I really wasn't expecting it. At that point I just had to get to it and get a touch on goal."
    Simon got to the through ball in the right side of the box and slid past a Davidson defender to chip the ball over DC  keeper Robby Goldsberry. It was Simon's second score of the season and his first in conference play.
    "That's exactly what I would want, is to score when it really  matters," said Simon.
    Southern will next face Furman, Friday in Greenville at 7 p.m.
    "I thing we gotta try to play for 90 minutes," said Kennedy of Friday's match. "I think the first 45 minutes today we were exceptional but it's going to take 90 minutes of that to move on."
    Southern's Webb was named to the all-conference first team Saturday while Cox and Brad Mitchum were named to the league's second team.
    Cox was also named freshman of the year.
    
    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)-489-9404.
    

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