By Matt Green
CLEVELAND, Miss. – Host Delta State used a four-goal barrage in the first half to build a big lead over visiting Shorter and cruise to a 5-1 victory over the Lady Hawks in a Gulf South Conference women's soccer showdown on Friday afternoon in Cleveland, Miss.
Erin Tucker, Payten Pearson, Michelle Laurenzi, Charlotte Benson and Tais Cotta scored a goal apiece for the Lady Statesmen, who snapped a two-game losing skid and improved to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the Gulf South Conference.
Diamond Davis scored Shorter's lone goal in the 50th minute on a header off a corner delivery from Kalley Estep. Davis' third career goal and first of 2012 cut Shorter's deficit to 4-1 early in the second half, but the Lady Hawks (1-4, 0-1) were unable to capitalize on the momentum from a 3-2 double overtime victory over GSC member West Alabama last Friday in Livingston.
That Shorter win did not count in the league standings as part of the unbalanced Gulf South schedule. Friday's match against Delta State did, and the Lady Statesmen laid claim to the conference triumph with a flurry midway through the first half.
Tucker notched the first goal of the match in the 24th minute to put Delta State up 1-0 and Pearson converted on an assist from Angela Palazzolo just five minutes later for a 2-0 advantage. Jackie Kelley assisted on Laurenzi's strike in the 40th minute and Benson drove home a corner kick from Kelley with 3:04 left until halftime to put the Lady Statesmen up 4-0 at the break.
Davis got her head on the end of Estep's corner in less than five minutes into the second half to pull Shorter to within three goals and Lady Hawks' keeper Katie Stachula stopped a penalty attempt by DSU's Meredith Wilkes in the 61st minute to hand Shorter a bit more momentum, but a pair of bookings for Shorter seconds later provided another golden opportunity for Delta State, and Cotta took advantage, driving home Delta State's fifth and final goal of the match to provide the game's final margin.
Delta State enjoyed a 25-10 advantage in shots and put nine attempts on frame, forcing Stachula – who made her second straight start in place of Shorter starting keeper Taylor Hays – into four saves. Aline Bez Tamiosso led Shorter with four shot attempts on the day.
Shorter will look to snap its own two-game losing streak as it continues Gulf South Conference play on Sunday, September 16 with a visit to Christian Brothers in Memphis, Tenn. Kickoff is set for 2 pm ET and video of the match can be found by following this link.