SLU Women's Soccer Loses Finale

ST. LOUIS — Senior Day for the Saint Louis University women's soccer team on Saturday afternoon at Robert R. Hermann Stadium could have been a time for celebration.

Instead it was visiting UNC Charlotte that was able to celebrate its second consecutive Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship after defeating Saint Louis 1-0 in the regular season finale for both teams.

"You have to look at the big picture I guess," SLU coach Tim Champion said. "If we're gonna lose to them, I'd rather lose to them next week, because the conference tournament is really what it's all about."

The Billikens are now 10-5-2 overall and 7-2-2 in the A-10 and have to wait to find out if they qualified for one of the two first-round byes in the conference tournament that starts with the quarterfinals on Thursday at Charlotte.

SLU has won the A-10 Tournament title the last two seasons.

Charlotte improved to 14-4-1 overall and 9-1-1 in the A-10. The 49ers bench players rushed onto the field as the clock expired and then the team tried unsuccessfully to dump a bucket of water on coach Jon Lipsitz, who was sharply dressed in a black suit.

That may have been the only mistake of the afternoon for the 49ers.

Charlotte was able to generate many more offensive opportunities than Saint Louis could. The 49ers out-shot the Billikens 11-3 — 4-1 in the first half and 7-2 in the second half — and held a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks.

Charlotte scored the first goal of the game off the first corner kick of the game with 29 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the first half.

Lindsay Ozimek sent the corner kick through the box and past a couple defenders and some of her 49ers teammates. Sam Huecker corralled the loose ball just inside the box and lifted a shot into the upper right-hand corner of the net for the freshman midfielder's sixth goal of the season.

That was the only goal of the first half; 45 minutes of physical soccer that saw the visiting 49ers control the tempo and force the Billikens to play more defensively than they probably would have liked.

SLU came out and played more physically in the second half, but was still stopped at every turn when it tried to create some offensive opportunities. Saturday's victory marked the 10th shutout of the season for Charlotte.

"We didn't get our midfield forward enough today and that hurt us," Champion said.

A push by sophomore forward Julia Bradenberg with 19 minutes left in the game summed up the frustration of the afternoon for the home team.

Bradenberg and two of her teammates tried to muster a counter-attack, which looked promising, but Charlotte had six players defending in front of the ball and was easily able to stop the rush.

"They're a good defensive team," Champion said. "They play very simple in the back. … They're good. They play a very physical style. We just need to adjust better to it."

The emotions were running high on Saturday as SLU honored seniors Cassi Winchell, Liz Fox, Mary Green and Heather Crawford before the game.

"It's always tough on Senior Day, too," Champion said. "There's always such emotion flowing around. It's difficult to relax and play soccer. It's always hard to worry more about that game than other games. But we need to get better."

The Billikens will be back in action either Thursday or Friday, depending on their seed. The A-10 regular season concludes with four games on Sunday.

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