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Monarchs And Dukes Face Off For 2023 Sun Belt Women's Soccer Championship Sunday


Thalia Morisi

WHO: ODU (12-2-5) vs. James Madison (9-3-8)
WHERE: Sun Belt Conference Championship – Foley, Alabama
WHEN: 2p.m. ET - Sunday
SERIES RECORD: JMU leads 16-7-2
FOLEY, Ala. – For the second year in a row, the Sun Belt Conference Women's Soccer Championship will be decided between a pair of teams from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Second-seeded Old Dominion will face fifth-seeded James Madison on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex for the right to claim the tournament crown and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
These teams met last year, in the first seasons for each in the league, and Old Dominion took a 4-3 double overtime win over JMU to take its second straight league crown. The Monarchs won the 2021 Conference USA title before joining the Sun Belt in 2022.
This marks the second year of the TowneBank Royal Rivalry series between ODU and JMU, which amplifies school pride between the two universities and rekindles a decade old rivalry steeped in tradition across all shared sports programs. 
TowneBank is a longstanding supporter of college athletics, and they are excited to cheer along the healthy competition between Old Dominion University and James Madison University. TowneBank is fortunate to have a strong alumni base on both sides of the rivalry and looks forward to seeing who will hoist the crown for the 2023-2024 academic year. 
Old Dominion (12-2-5) scored two goals in a 51 second span early in the first half and made that stand as the Monarchs defeated third-seeded Georgia Southern 2-1 in the semifinals on Friday. Thalia Morisi had a goal and assisted on Rhea Kijowski's opening tally as the Monarchs scored twice in the first 14 minutes of play.
These teams played on October 8 as the Monarchs and Dukes went to a 0-0 draw in Norfolk. Emily Bredek finished with one on the day, as the Monarchs held a 14-8 advantage in shots.
Ece Turkoglu leads the Monarchs in goals scored with five and points with 11 adding one assist to her total. Megan Watts has five goals on the year for 10 points, with Morisi now at four goals and one assist for nine points.
Aleigha Arndt leads the team with three assists, while Anna Torslov, Katie Lutz, Andrea Balcazar Algarin and Madison Micheletti have a pair of assists each.
In the net, Bredek has a goals against average of 0.427 to rank fifth nationally and is fourth nationally after her school record 11th shutout. As a team, the Monarchs are fourth nationally in goals against average at 0.421
The goal by Georgia Southern in Friday's semifinal was the first goal allowed in the opening half by the Monarchs all season. They've outscored opponents 8-1 in the first half and 19-7 in the second.
In the latest RPI rankings, ODU comes in 41st, while JMU is 37th.
Suwaibatu Mohammed and Amanda Attanasi lead the Dukes in scoring with six goals apiece. Mohammed has the team lead in points adding five assists for 17 points, while Attanasi has three assists for 15 points. Shea Collins has three goals and five assists for 11 points.
In the net, Alexandra Blom leads the team with nine shutouts, a 0.74 goals against average and a save percentage of .818.
Sophia Verrechia scored her second goal of the season off a feed from Lexi Vanderlinden in the 70th minute on Friday and Blom made it stand up in the net with five saves as JMU defeated top-seeded South Alabama 1-0 in the second semifinal.
The winner earns the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the loser waits for possible at-large selection.