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Big First Half Lifts Furman Over Western Carolina, 3-1

Carlie Couch
Carlie Couch

Cullowhee, N.C. -- Senior Carlie Couch netted a pair of first half goals and junior Rachel Shah added a third as Furman raced out to a three-goal lead en route to a 3-1 victory over Western Carolina in Southern Conference women's soccer action on Friday night at the Catamount Soccer Complex in Cullowhee, N.C.

With the victory over the Catamounts and several other favorable results around the SoCon on Friday evening, Furman (12-3-1, 6-2-0 SoCon) clinched a top four finish in the league standings and homefield advantage in the quarterfinal round of the SoCon Tournament. The Paladins will host an opponent to be determined in the quarterfinal round on Seagraves Field at Stone Stadium on October 29, at 2 p.m.

"It's always big to win on the road," said Furman head coach Andrew Burr, who helped his team reach the 12-win mark for the sixth consecutive season. "We got outstanding senior leadership tonight and Carlie Couch played really well. It's good to clinch the top four seed and know that we'll be playing on our home field again next Saturday."

Couch, a native of Tifton, Ga., opened the scoring for Furman in the 22nd minute when Quinn Lombard's free kick from in front of the Paladin bench along the right sideline banged off the left post, shot across the face of goal and was poked inside the right post on a sliding effort by the fourth-year forward.

At the 28:51 mark, Couch doubled the Paladin lead and tied for the team lead with her ninth goal of the season. Caitlyn Reilly dribbled through the midfield and slid a ball down the left wing for fellow freshman Treva Aycock who lofted a cross towards the far side of the box. Shah headed the ball down inside the six-yard box and Couch connected with the ball in flight on a left-footed shot to redirect the ball inside the right post.

Shah upped the margin to 3-0 with her fifth goal of the campaign at the 31:05 mark. Junior Molly Dwyer headed a failed clearance from the middle of the box towards the right post and Shah volleyed her shot past WCU goalkeeper Carly Tinstman to cap the first half scoring.

Western Carolina (6-11-0, 3-5-0 SoCon) pulled a goal back on a penalty kick by Sayres McKenna in the 60th minute. The spot kick was awarded when Furman was ruled to have fouled a Catamount attacker with her back to goal 18 yards from the goal line.

Rose Hull earned the victory in goal by making one save in a scoreless 45 minutes of work. Freshman Kellsey Weaver allowed one goal and stopped three shots in the second half for the Paladins. Tinstman turned away two shots for WCU before Jacquelin Gnassi stopped five second half shots.

Furman finished with a 14-9 advantage in total shots and 10-5 edge in shots on goal.

The Paladins conclude the regular season with a 2 p.m. SoCon contest at ETSU on Sunday in Johnson City, Tenn. The winner of Sunday's match can secure a second place finish in the league standings, while Furman could earned the SoCon regular season title with a victory and a Samford loss at VMI.

Live statistics and a live video stream will be available for Sunday's match. The links will be posted at FurmanPaladins.com.

Updates on Furman women's soccer can be found on Twitter by following @FurmanWSoccer.



Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information