Drish, South Alabama make history

Melissa Drish and the South Alabama women’s soccer team made history this past weekend. Thanks to Drish’s outstanding performance in net, the second-seeded Jaguars won the Sun Belt Conference championship with a 1-0 victory over top seed Western Kentucky in the final Sunday at Bobcat Soccer Complex.

Drish, a senior from Heritage, saved both shots she faced and Lauren Allison scored the only goal to garner the tournament’s most outstanding player honor as the Mobile, Alabama school won its first-ever league crown and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

“This is a great feeling,” South Alabama first-year head coach Graham Winkworth told usajaguars.com. “This was some excellent passing soccer, the best all season. And the girls defended magnificently today. We’re going to enjoy every moment of this and the rest of our season.”

Drish, who moved to 11-5-2 with her seventh shut out of the season and second of the conference tournament, joined teammates Allison, Clarissa Hernandez, Nini Rabsatt-Smith and Shelby Owen on the Sun Belt’s all-tournament team.

South Alabama (14-5-3) will play Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State (18-1-3), which is the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at 6:00 p.m.

“We’re buzzing with excitement,” Winkworth said. “Ten months ago, when I came here, I told the girls we would be playing for a championship, and here we are, playing the top team in the country in the NCAA Tournament.”