Down among the Spanish moss and sweet tea they’re playing some pretty good women’s soccer.
North Georgia, with one loss, and undefeated Columbus State are on course for a huge meeting in late October in the conference, which is lately one of the better leagues in DII.
Two other Peach Belt schools are tied with North Georgia (8-1, 2-0) and Columbus State (6-0-1, 2-0) atop the league standings, also undefeated in conference play in the early going: BR-14 Lander is undefeated overall and BR-15 Clayton State, led by the conference’s leading goal scorer, Maria Marti Bartis, has won seven straight and is 8-1.
“The Peach Belt Conference is truly a grind. There are a lot of outstanding programs and coaches in this conference and you need to be at your best to win in this league,” Eric Faulconer, in his 10th season as head coach at Armstrong State, told Bennettrank.
Clayton State’s Marti Bartis, of Girona, Spain, has 10 goals in nine games, tied for second in the nation in DII. Marti Bartis has been consistent, scoring in all but one of the games the Lakers have played. She also got her first college hat trick this season, netting three against Pfeiffer in a 6-3 win.
And while BR-10 Armstrong State (5-2, 1-1) has a conference loss, it was a 3-2 defeat to Columbus State in two overtimes, and the Pirates are in the Top 10 in the nation in scoring, ranked ninth with 3.14 goals per game.
If your team isn’t prepared on any given game day you will get beat. We are kind of like the ACC of Division II, as you can see with the amount of PBC teams in the HeroSports Top 25.
“If your team isn’t prepared on any given game day you will get beat,” Faulconer said. “We are kind of like the ACC of Division II, as you can see with the amount of PBC teams in the HeroSports Top 25.”
The Peach Belt has been competitive for several years, going back to at least 2003 when former member Kennesaw State won the Division II national championship after a 25-1 season.
Faulconer’s Armstrong Pirates were national semifinalists in 2011, losing 2-0 in the Final Four to Saint Rose, the eventual national champion that year. And in 2012 Armstrong made it to the national quarterfinals before losing 1-0 to West Florida – and to get to the quarterfinals Armstrong beat North Georgia and Columbus State in NCAA tournament games.
In addition to the North Georgia-Columbus State game later this month, several other marquis match-ups are still to come in the Peach Belt, starting with the North Georgia-Clayton State match on Oct. 15.
For Columbus State, the big upcoming matches are Oct. 18 against Clayton State (8-1, 3-0) and Oct. 22 against North Georgia.
For Armstrong, right after Clayton State they will finish the season Nov. 1 at Lander.
Most of the key matches for the Lander Lady Bearcats (4-0-1, 2-0) will come late in the season, starting Oct. 11 at Clayton State. Lander finishes the season with three straight tough games, at Columbus State and then home against North Georgia and Armstrong.