Championship dreams remain alive for two women’s soccer squads following dramatic games last weekend. The University of Mobile (UM) got the victory parade started by winning its conference tournament, while the University of South Alabama (USA) used the home-field advantage to open its national playoff run with a triumph.

● It was a historic occasion for the Lady Jags, who defeated Louisiana State University 4-0 Saturday night at The Cage. It marked the first time a Sun Belt Conference club had ever been selected to host a NCAA women’s soccer playoff game.

“First of all, we want to thank all the fans for coming out tonight,” USA head coach Graham Winkworth said to the 1,173 in attendance. “That was the most electric soccer crowd, I think in Mobile history, certainly since I’ve been here. To have them here was like having a 12th player on the field.”

(Photo/University of South Alabama Athletics) South Alabama sophomore Danielle Henley outmaneuvers an LSU defender en route to a 4-0 shutout in the first round of NCAA tournament play in Mobile Nov. 14. The Jags advance to play Florida State in Tallahassee Nov. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

(Photo/University of South Alabama Athletics) South Alabama sophomore Danielle Henley outmaneuvers an LSU defender en route to a 4-0 shutout in the first round of NCAA tournament play in Mobile Nov. 14. The Jags advance to play Florida State in Tallahassee Nov. 20 at 4:30 p.m.


USA got all the offense it needed as sophomore midfielder Danielle Henley scored a pair of first-half goals. Forwards Rio Hardy and Charde Hannah added one each for the final tally. Goalkeeper Sarah Hay made four saves as the Lady Jags earned a second straight shutout.

“We controlled the game. We were fantastic,” Winkworth said. “We started extremely well. Danielle Henley provided a brilliant finish. LSU had a few shots in the first half, but they didn’t really trouble Sarah.”

USA improves to 18-2-2 on the season and advances into the second round for the first time in school history. The team’s reward is a game Friday afternoon in Tallahassee against No. 1 seed Florida State. The winner faces the survivor of the Auburn and Texas Tech match.

● The Lady Rams defended their Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) tournament title with exciting 1-0 victories. Ranked No. 6 entering the tourney, UM beat fourth-rated Martin Methodist in the semifinals and No. 3 William Carey University (WCU) in the title match. These wins avenged their only setbacks during the regular season, as they now stand at 18-2.

“We played a team that was worthy of a top-five ranking and it was a battle all the way through,” head coach Brian Person said of WCU. “There were ebbs and flows to the game, where each team had the better of it.”

The only goal of the final came at the 38:49 mark. After a corner kick was knocked away by the WCU goalie, Anna Caroline Scales fired the loose ball inside the far post for the goal. It marked the second straight year for Scales to score the decisive goal in the SSAC finale.

“I can’t say enough about Anna Caroline Scales, again stepping up and scoring a big goal in a big game,” Person said. “She gets the glory, but the whole team deserves credit.”

Goalkeeper Rebecca Wynne recorded her 10th shutout for the Lady Rams. UM has five shutouts in its last six games.

The team earned the fifth seed in the NAIA National Championship at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. The Lady Rams’ first game will be played either Nov. 30 or Dec. 1.

Havana daydreaming
Despite battling rough seas stirred up by the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, almost two dozen sailboats competed in the historic Andrews Institute Pensacola a la Habana 2015 race. The event got underway Oct. 31 and the final boat arrived at Cuba’s Hemingway International Yacht Club six days later.

Bob Kriegal, the chairman of the race who was featured in Lagniappe’s preview of the adventure, finished with the best-corrected time among the 17 monohull boats. Kriegal, who previously won the prestigious Pensacola to Isla Mujeras race, was at the helm of the Acadia, his Pearson 424.

The top finisher among the multihull entries was George Reiss of Panama City, Florida. He was aboard his R&C boat, the Bene Vita. The names of both winners will be engraved on a perpetual trophy.

The Daedelus, which was mentioned in a previous Lagniappe feature, did not make the trip. Its captain said difficulties getting enough people to serve as crew kept the boat docked at Bear Point Marina in Orange Beach.

However, several other local boats ended up in the fleet. In the Class C Classic Cruiser Division, Orange Beach’s Ray Rayfield took top honors aboard the Libra, a Tripp 57. The Libra was also third overall in the Classic Cruiser Division.

In the Class B Modern Cruiser DIvision, Bob Suberi’s Tif Blue, a Tartan 34 from Orange Beach, took fourth place. In the Multihull Class, Tom Schinkert of Elberta finished second aboard the Odalisque, a Catana 43.

Changing of the guard at USSA
Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, who founded the United States Sports Academy (USSA) in 1972, announced he is stepping down as the president and chief executive officer of the Daphne institution. He will assume the role of president emeritus, and will focus on fundraising, alumni affairs, international relations and the school’s Award of Sport program.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your unconditional support you have given me over the years, and the opportunity to educate a generation of sports professionals,” Rosandich told the Board of Trustees. “It has been a good ride and I hope that my bold aspirations will continue to guide our efforts to create a better future for our students, the academy and our society.”

Dr. T.J. Rosandich, the current vice president and chief operating officer, has been selected to oversee the academy, the only free-standing regionally accredited sports university in the country. Since opening its doors, USSA has conferred almost 5,000 sport-specific degrees.

The nonprofit academy currently enrolls approximately 900 students seeking bachelor, master and doctorate degrees at the Daphne campus or online. To learn more about the school, visit ussa.edu.