Clayton State makes history

By Brian Howard

For the first time in the history of the Peach Belt Conference, one school owns the men's and women's tournament soccer championships.

The Clayton State University men's soccer team knocked off USC Upstate, 2-1, Sunday and the Lady Lakers beat Columbus State, 2-1 in overtime Saturday to capture the titles.

It is the second time in school history that the Lakers have captured the PBC Tournament, with Clayton State last winning the title in 2000. The title also comes on the heels of the Lakers winning the 2005 PBC regular season title last week. USC Upstate falls for the second straight year in the championship game. Last year, the Spartans lost to UNC Pembroke, 3-1.

History was also made with the men's team, winning the school's first title at home, a feat that hadn't been accomplished, Clayton State trainer John Zubal said.

The men's title game marked the second time in eight days that the two teams met. Clayton State beat USC Upstate, 1-0, Oct. 30.

In Sunday's match, the Lakers took a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the first half on a give-and-go by Juan Trujillo and Victor Duncan, which resulted in a goal. Trujillo streaked through the midfield, beating the Upstate defense before passing the ball to Duncan for a shot from eight-yards out.

In the second half, the Lakers added some insurance as Trujillo again beat the defense, stopped and fired a shot from 15-yards out that ricocheted off Upstate keeper Ryan Cooper's hands and into the upper right corner of the net.

“They just gave me some space and I saw the space to just shoot the ball,” Trujillo said. “We wanted to win the conference, win the tournament and go to regionals. It feels good and this is the first time I've done it.”

The Spartans cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 88th minute when Troy Simon, taking a pass from Kim Krohn, fired a shot from 15-yards out, which beat the outstretched arms of Clayton State keeper Heath Padgett, for the goal.

Upstate outshot Clayton State, 13-6, in the match, but was denied several times by Padgett, who finished with eight saves. Cooper had two.

“It was a big victory,” Padgett, who was named to the all-tournament team, said. “To win the conference regular season championship, then to win the tournament title, you can't get any better than that.”

With the win, the Lakers, ranked No. 9 in Division II, improved to 13-3-4, while USC Upstate, ranked No. 18, drops to 13-3-2. The two teams await the decision on the three teams to be chosen for the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.

The NCAA Region committee will make its decision this week on the three participants.

Saturday in the women's final, Clayton State's Nkese Udoh ran down a loose ball off a pass from Jennifer Powell and beat Columbus State's Monica Sanchez in the first overtime period to lift the Lady Lakers to a 2-1 win.