From Staff Reports
Peach Belt Conference men's soccer fans will converge on south metro Atlanta's Southern Crescent Saturday and Sunday, as Clayton State University will host the 15th annual Peach Belt Conference Men's Soccer Championships.
By virtue of winning the 2005 regular season Conference Championship, the Lakers received the honor of hosting the event and will welcome a trio of PBC teams for the semifinals and finals this weekend at Laker Field on the campus of Clayton State.
Top-seeded Clayton State, who received a bye in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday, will face fifth-seeded North Georgia College & State University at noon Saturday in the first semifinal match. North Georgia, in its first year of the competing in the Peach Belt, pulled off an upset in its first Peach Belt Tournament match, knocking off fourth-seeded Lander 2-1 in overtime.
Clayton State, ranked ninth in the country, will enter the match on a five-game unbeaten streak with an 11-3-4 record. The Lakers are coming off a 1-0 victory on Saturday over Upstate, which sewed up the program's second PBC regular season championship in the last five years. North Georgia will enter the match with a 10-5-2 record and is riding a five-game winning streak. The Lakers defeated North Georgia 4-1 earlier this season behind a trio of goals from Alex Dowling, two of which came on penalty kicks.
The other semifinal match at 2:30 p.m. will feature third-seeded and 18th-ranked the University of South Carolina Upstate versus seventh-seeded Francis Marion University. Upstate advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 victory over the University of South Carolina Aiken Wednesday. Francis Marion moved on the semifinals, shocking 17th-ranked and second-seeded the University of North Carolina Pembroke in a penalty kick shootout after a 2-2 tie at the end of two overtimes. FMU advanced 5-3 on penalty kicks.
Francis Marion will enter Saturday's match with an 8-10-1 record and despite going winless in PBC play the season, the Patriots do have some quality wins, including a victory over 15th-ranked Catwaba in Saturday's season finale. Upstate enters the match with a 12-2-2 record on the season and defeated the Patriots 3-0 in the regular season meeting behind two goals from Liam Slack.
General admission for the Championships is $5, and students are free with a valid PBC member institution ID. Clayton State faculty, staff and students are free with their Laker Card. The winners of each semifinal match on Saturday will advance to a 2 p.m. championship match on Sunday at Clayton State. UNC Pembroke won last year's tournament, defeating Upstate 3-1.