GRAMBLING, La. (KTVE/KARD)— In this week women in sports we are highlighting the Grambling State Women’s Soccer Team, as the Lady Tigers took their fifth trip to the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) title championship game. This time they were victorious after beating Jackson State 2-1 on Sunday inside Prairie-View A&M Soccer Complex.
The Lady Tigers will now enter the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Soccer Tournament for the first time since 2006 and will face the no. 2 seed Arkansas Razorbacks.
“It feels amazing. I mean last year we went through a lot losing to Jackson and to beat them. Says GSU Goalkeeper Madison-Covey Taylor, “This year was really amazing so great I think I was most excited about the celebration. Senior Khori Banks adds, “We had something we’ve been working on but I feel like it was just a long time coming, so I’m glad that it came in at the right moment for me, says Banks.”
Khori Banks was the first lady tier to strike a goal to build a lead over Jackson State then teammate Sophia Lezizidis, put the second goal in the back of the net in the first half.
With a strong defensive core from the Lady Tiger to put away the game in the second half. The ladies were able to breathe a sigh of relief and call themselves the SWAC Champs after an undefeated season.
It felt amazing! says Taylor, “We worked so hard this season and to come this far and into exceeded. All of our goals was just it was out of this world, I was so excited after the game.
Freshman Sophia Lezizidis scored the second goal in the victory over Jackson State to help clinich Grambling State’s third championship title in program history. Lezizidis was named Most Valuable Player after a stellar performance of four goals across three rounds in the tournament.
“I just feel sore like really it’s just so grateful to be here. says Lezizidis, ‘It was a great experience, great opportunity, great everything. That celebration feeling is just awesome and I just really hope we get more of those like years to come like next year and everything.”
GSU’s goalkeeper sophomore Madison Taylor had four saves in the championship game while Jackson State had five shots on goal and six corner kicks. Taylor shares her experience, playing one of the toughest positions on the field.
“For me personally, I think it’s the most challenging position on the field just because you have to see everything and you have to use your voice and tell everybody where to be at all times. Most players you know you can only see what’s in front of you so for midfielders they’re gonna tell their forwards what to do but I have to tell each and every person where to be what time and everything like that so it gets really hard, said Taylor.”
I asked the ladies “What does Grambling mean to you?”
Khori Banks and Madison-Covey Taylor both shared their responses. “Just a place to belong!” says Taylor, “It’s really great to be here especially going through my high school play I was always the minority so to be here with other black women is amazing.” Khori Banks follows “Yeah I agree! This is my first year here at an HBCU and I also just love all the girls feel like family. These are like my sisters when I come out here every day it’s my home away from home so that means a lot to me. Said Banks.
The Grambling State Women’s soccer team hits the road to Fayetteville, Ark., and is set to face No. two-seed Arkansas in the opening round of the 2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CST.
This will be the Lady Tigers’ second trip to the NCAA postseason since winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Tournament in 2006.
Grambling State (15-4-4) and Arkansas (14-4-2) will be facing off for the first since 2004, a match that the Razorbacks won 4-0.
Arkansas enters the tournament after its loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship game 1-0 on Sunday. The winner of Friday’s match will play the winner of Pittsburgh and Ohio State in the second round.