HARDEEVILLE -- Caroline Bowman is one of the smallest players on the University of South Carolina Beaufort women's soccer team, a freshman defender standing just 5 feet, 4 inches with a slender frame. But her specialty on the soccer field belies her stature -- Bowman can put some serious force behind a throw-in.
Knowing this, freshman Brittany Lorentz broke toward the goal as soon as Bowman let the ball fly in the 88th minute Friday at the SCAD Athletics Complex and booted a bouncing ball into the upper-left corner for the winning goal in a 2-1 upset of Sun Conference rival SCAD Savannah.
Lorentz also assisted on Olivia Dizon's first-half goal and Chelsie Mummert made eight saves -- many of them to spoil quality chances -- as the Sand Sharks (6-8-1, 3-4 TSC) claimed the first victory over a team receiving votes for the NAIA Coaches Top 25 in the program's three-year history.
"Our girls came ready to play tonight and stuck to our game plan throughout the match," USCB coach Ed Heberling said. "I am so proud of these ladies and what they have done for this program and the bar they raised tonight for our program."
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The Bees (7-7, 3-4) dominated possession for most of the first half, but couldn't beat Mummert. USCB sent in several subs with 15 minutes left in the period in hopes of generating an attack, and it paid off in the 35th minute.
Lorentz played a long ball forward and Dizon made a run across the field from right to left and slipped past the goalkeeper before placing a left-footed shot into the upper-right corner for the game's first goal.
"Olivia could not have found a better time to score her first goal of the season," Heberling said. "She was controlled and comfortable as she beat the keeper and slotted a ball home."
The Sand Sharks maintained that advantage through halftime and controlled the opening minutes of the second half, but SCAD answered in the 60th minute. Alexandra Weinberg took the ball up the right side and sent a cross to Nina Gonzalez, who put it away to tie it at 1.
Mummert turned away several more shots and the Sand Sharks' back line continued its strong play to keep the Bees at bay, and USCB again turned up the offensive pressure as the half wound down.
With the clock ticking toward the final two minutes, Bowman launched a throw-in from in front of the USCB bench. It bounced once before Lorentz put her right foot to it and found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
"Britt's goal could not have been any better," Heberling said. "Bowman's throw-in was like a cross and Britt buried it past the keeper.
"This was a total team effort tonight. The players now know the bar has been raised and they have to play to higher expectations. I am so proud of my team tonight."
The win puts the Sand Sharks in position to host a quarterfinal game in the Sun Conference Tournament if they can win their final two conference games next week. USCB hosts Southeastern at 3 p.m. Thursday and Ave Maria at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Sand Sharks have one non-conference tune-up before those key games, traveling to Laurinburg, N.C., to face St. Andrews at noon Sunday.