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Eagles kick off NCAA tourney

Georgia Southern at Wake Forest
7 p.m., Today
NCAA Tournament, Round 1

    Georgia Southern women’s soccer enters the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
    The Eagles face Wake Forest in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Winston-Salem’s Spry Stadium.
    The match can be seen live for free on
    The Eagles enter the postseason without allowing a goal in its last four matches. Goalkeeper Katie Merson led the Eagles defense with SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors as well as the Disney Soccer/NSCAA National Player of the Week award for her performance in the SoCon Tournament.
    The eighth-seeded Eagles took three-straight wins over higher-seeded opponents to win the program’s first SoCon Championship. The Eagles opened the postseason with a win over No. 1 UNCG, followed by an overtime victory over No. 5 Elon. In the Championship Game, GSU drew No. 3 Furman 0-0 and won the penalty kick shootout 5-4.
    Sophomore Sydnie Van Curen and freshman Nora El-Shami pace the GSU offense with five goals each on the year. El-Shami has three assists, giving her GSU’s top-scorer honors. Senior Courtney Collins has scored four goals while making four assists this year.
    Wake Forest opens its 17th-straight NCAA Tournament Appearance on Saturday with a 13-5-3 overall record. The Demon Deacons are ranked 10th nationally and are facing the Eagles for the first time in series history. Aubrey Bledsoe ranks fourth in the ACC with a 0.83 goals against average while Katie Stengel has 0.54 goals per game to tie for eighth place in the league. Stengel has scored seven times this year with six goals in ACC play.
    Among Wake Forest’s losses was a 1-0 loss to UNCG on Aug. 24. The Deacs went on to finish in a tie for second in the ACC and reach the league’s semifinals, falling to Maryland in the tournament’s penultimate round.
    The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament against the winner of the Notre Dame-Milwaukee contest in the adjacent tie of the bracket.