This article was originally published in The Inkwell and on its website.
After defense led the way at the “Clash on the Coast” tournament Sept. 6-8, sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Luckie and sophomore defender Taylor Russell have earned the first top honors for the Peach Belt Conference in the 2013 soccer season.
Armstrong earned draws against the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation over the weekend at the “Clash on the Coast.” The Pirates first tied 0-0 with No. 2 Grand Valley State, and then tied 1-1 with No. 1 West Florida.
Luckie, a 2012 NSCAA All-Region goalkeeper, had a career-high nine saves in the first game against Grand Valley State., to earn PBC goalkeeper of the week. She also had a pair of saves, and almost had another shutout against West Florida until a scramble for the ball turned into a goal with 28 seconds left in regulation for West Florida.
Shots were fired all weekend at Luckie, but she made multiple highlight-reel plays, flying through the air.
“When I see the ball in the air, I have to decide whether or not I can win the in,” Luckie said. “As I continued winning those balls in the air, I gained confidence that I was going to win every ball.”
Russell, a 2013 Preseason All-PBC defender, was a major reason the Pirates only gave up one goal against the top two ranked teams in the nation, to earn PBC defender of the week. The defender played all 110 minutes versus Grand Valley State.
“Even though we let up a late goal near the end of the game, we will learn from it,” Russell said. “I felt extremely confident with our team and the way we showed ourselves this past weekend.”
Against West Florida, the usual defensive star also came through on offensive, scoring Armstrong’s only goal in the 81st minute versus the defending national champions. She also helped hold the reigning NCAA Division II National Player of the Year, Chelsea Palmer, to two shots and no goals in the 1-1 draw.
Not only was Russell honored by the PBC, but she was named the inagural Disney/NSCAA DII National Player of the Week.
Both defensive standouts helped the Pirates extend their home unbeaten streak to 42 straight matches, dating back to 2008.
“It’s kinda disappointing that we didn’t win those games, but I was really happy with how well we played,” Luckie said. “We learned a lot about our team as a whole and it’s definitely going to help us moving forward and having success throughout the season.”