This story initially appeared on gomocs.com.
With a flick of her head, Mackenzie Smith found the back of the goal and helped Chattanooga to its first-ever Southern Conference women’s soccer regular season title. The Mocs and Furman finished 1-1 in regulation Sunday afternoon in Greenville, S.C., securing UTC’s top seed in the SoCon postseason tournament.
“So happy for the team and for everyone involved with our program,” Mocs Head Coach Gavin McKinney said. “To win the first title in the history of Chattanooga Soccer is so special. Not many student-athletes can say they have done what this group has. They should be hugely proud of this accomplishment.”
Tough on the set piece, the Mocs turned a corner kick into a game-tying goal in the 70th minute. Zoey Mize served it up to the far post and Smith went high for the header to tie the game 1-1. Earlier in the match, on a similar play, Smith’s header rang off the post.
Chattanooga had a season-high 20 shots with nine on goal in the match, but were thwarted by Furman keeper Nora Sampson at nearly every turn. Three of Smith’s four shots were on goal. Birna Johannsdottir had a season-best six shots with three stopped on their way into the net.
Sampson had eight saves in the match while Mocs’ keeper Caroline Ekern had four.
In the first half, what looked like a sure goal for Kennedy Heavrin, was negated due to an offside call by the official. Mize sent the shot in from outside the top of the box and Sampson stretched high to make the save, but he put it back into play while landing flat on the ground. Heavrin was there to put it into the net for what seemed to be the game-tying score. However, the side judge ruled her to be offside by mere millimeters.
The SoCon title is the first in program history for Chattanooga, whose previous best finish was third in the 2020 season, shortened and moved to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Winning titles is tough,” McKinney said. “To come back from a goal down at Furman shows the character of this team. We are looking forward to the tournament.”
With the draw, the Mocs finished the regular season at 7-4-5 overall and 5-1-3 in SoCon play, tied with Samford for the title. The draw snapped the Paladins 29-game win streak over Chattanooga.
Furman closed out the year tied with Wofford for eighth at 8-8-2 overall and 3-4-2 against the league.
The Paladins drew the ninth seed and will face off against the Terriers on Tuesday, October 25 in Spartanburg, S.C., The winner will move on to face the Mocs on Friday, Oct. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in Chattanooga.
Gates will open at 3 p.m. and admission is free. Bring your chairs and blankets to enjoy the match as bleacher seating is limited. The first match between #4 UNCG and #5 Western Carolina will kick off at 4 p.m.
In the postseason, overtime will be enforced, but not the Golden Goal. If a winner is not established by the end of either overtime period, penalty kicks will determine which team will advance.
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