By Official Florida FC
Embry-Riddle is undefeated. Flagler College is on a mission. West Florida seeks a return to the bright lights of the national stage.
All three head to Columbus, Georgia this weekend for the NCAA Division II Southeast and South Super Regional.
Embry-Riddle (14-0-5) faces West Florida (17-3-1) on Friday at noon. Columbus State (18-2-1) hosts Flagler (14-3-3) at 3 p.m. Friday’s winners play on Sunday for a chance to advance to the Division II national semifinals.
South Region Final: Embry-Riddle vs. West Florida
Embry-Riddle used three second half goals to eliminate Sunshine State Conference regular season champion Florida Southern on Sunday to return to the Round of 16 for the second time in the last four years.
Embry-Riddle is one of three unbeatens in NCAA Division II alongside West Chester (20-0-1) and St. Rose (18-0-3).
Embry-Riddle has only trailed for 93 of a possible 1,620 minutes this season. However, the Eagles have yet to win a match where their opponent scores first. Eckerd (Sept. 24), St. Leo (Oct. 8) and Rollins (Oct. 19) all took the lead against Embry-Riddle, but the Eagles equalized with second half goals.
Embry-Riddle midfielder Isabelle Navren scored two goals to lift the Eagles over Florida Southern on Sunday. She has eight goals and five assists this season. More importantly five of those goals and two of those assists have come in the last five games.
As for West Florida, the Argonauts are powered by senior forward Blair Cowan. She eliminated Embry-Riddle with a golden goal in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Cowan has been even better this year, with 21 goals and 10 assists for the Argonauts.
West Florida is 23-0-0 over the last two seasons in matches Cowan scores. The Argonauts are 8-6-4 in matches she doesn’t find the back of the net.
Southeast Region Final: Flagler at Columbus State
While the first match may be decided by a moment of magic, expect fireworks in the latter part of the doubleheader.
Columbus State averages 4.0 goals a game to lead Division II. Emma Beddow is fifth in Division II soccer with 19 goals. The sophomore from Savannah has scored in 15 different matches this season.
Columbus State may have a dynamic attack, as is usually the case under head coach Jay Entlich, but Flagler has a senior-laden defense that kept one of the best attacking teams in Division II at bay for nearly 50 minutes following Emery Biggs’ 64th minute red card.
In attack, Flagler’s Andrea Fernandez has 20 goals on the season, including the equalizer against Catawba in the second round and the game-winning goal from the penalty spot against Columbus State in the Peach Belt Conference final.
Fernandez has been talismanic for the Saints during the postseason.
The saying ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ undoubtedly applies to a player like Fernandez. The question is whether her class can lift Flagler to its second national semifinal in the last four years.
When the Saints advanced to the semifinals in 2019, they used a balanced attack and timely defending to march on. That 2019 campaign was a breakthrough for Flagler. The Saints are 5-1-3 since the start of 2019 against Columbus State and scored in all nine of those matches.
If Fernandez can continue her run and head coach Ashley Martin maintains his mastery over Columbus State, anything is possible in the Southeast Region Final.