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Barton tops Converse to clinch home playoff game

Barton seniors Taylor DeMartini (left), Ashley Mahoney (middle) and Taylor Parrish (right) were honored with family, friends and coaching staff before Saturday's match against Converse | by Kevin Buczek

by Kevin Buczek

WILSON, N.C.-Forward Taylor Parrish had a goal and an assist on her Senior Night to lead the Barton College women's soccer team to a 2-1 Conference Carolinas victory over Converse College on Saturday night at the Barton Outdoor Athletic Complex.

The Lady Bulldogs secured a home playoff game in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Conference Carolinas Tournament as the No. 3 seed by finishing the regular season with a 6-3 league record. Barton will entertain No. 6 seed North Greenville University in the quarterfinals on Monday at 7 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs will be hosting a playoff game for the first time since Barton hosted Limestone in the quarters of the 2008 conference tourney.  

Barton (13-5 overall), who's last loss came against North Greenville (7-9, 4-5) in Tigerville, S.C., on Oct. 19, finished the regular season on a season-best, four-game win streak. The Lady Bulldogs are 7-1 at home and have won four straight in Wilson, N.C.

Converse (9-9 overall, 4-5 conf.) will be the fifth seed in the Conference Carolinas Tournament and will visit fourth-seeded Pfeiffer University (11-6, 6-3) on Monday in the quarterfinals.

After the Barton coaching staff honored its senior class of three in Parrish, Taylor DeMartini and Ashley Mahoney; the Lady Bulldogs raced in front from the opening minute and never trailed.

Sophomore Jodi Barber scored just 33 seconds into play on the Lady Bulldogs first offensive opportunity. Parrish started the transition up the field before finding freshman Kathryn Smith just outside the 18-yard box. Smith then passed the ball over to Barber on the right wing. Barber then lobbed a curling shot from near the end line inside the far left post.

Barton dominated both halves outshooting the Valkyries 11-2 in the first half and 12-3 in the second half. Barber and sophomore Emily Futral each took seven strikes at the visitors net.

Despite a commanding shot advantage, the Lady Bulldogs only led by one goal until Parrish scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 71st minute. Parrish finished off a give-and-go pass with Barber at the top of the box with a high shot that snuck under the crossbar.

Parrish has eight goals on the season and 24 so far in her four-year career for the Royal Blue and White. The Smithfield, N.C., product has five game-winning goals to her credit in 2013.

Barber finished the regular season atop the Conference Carolinas statistical rankings in all three major offensive categories with her own three-point performance. The Maysville, N.C., product enters postseason play with league-leading totals of 14 goals, nine assists and 37 points.

For a second straight game, Barton was closing in on its seventh shutout only to have the bid spoiled in the final 90 seconds. Sophomore Olivia Grose put Converse on the board with just 54.8 seconds left on the clock by chipping a shot over Barton junior goalie Carson Moore. Grose netted her fourth goal on a breakaway set up on a lead pass by freshman Cara Pennington. 

Moore was not tested much making two saves in her 13th win of the year. Moore stoned Grose on another breakaway opportunity in the 85th minute to highlight her play between the pipes.

Barton finished with a 23-5 shot surplus. The Lady Bulldogs took all seven of the contest's corner kicks but were whistled for twice as many fouls at 16-8.