Columbus State soccer plays Rollins for first trip to final four

Columbus State women's soccer coach Jay Entlich has twice led teams to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals. The third time will come Sunday when the fourth-ranked Lady Cougars face eighth-ranked Rollins.

But while the stage keeps getting bigger, Entlich wants his team to treat Sunday like any other day.

"We also want to make sure that our players don't get stressed out as the game is still 90 minutes and there is one ball two goals, the same field dimensions, etc.," Entlich said by email Saturday. "In other words, it is no different than any other game that we have played all year long."

But the payoff is unlike any other game. The winner of the match, which will be played at Rollins in Winter Park, Fla., will earn a berth in the final four in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 4-6.

"This team has played under pressure for the entire season so by now, I feel that they are used to it," Entlich said. "We purposely try to schedule the hardest teams in the country that we can so every game matters. By doing this, it puts our team under pressure every time they step foot onto the pitch.

"If we don't schedule good teams, it actually hurts our team as they don't have to work as hard and get a false sense of where they are at throughout the season. Every year, I call the best teams out there and try to get games with them. In the end, this will help us develop and grow as a program."

Columbus State lost both of its previous trips to the quarterfinals in 2007 and '08.

"The main thing I took away from our previous two trips is that nothing comes easy," Entlich said. "We were winning 1-0 in 2007 with 11 minutes to play and gave up a bad goal and ended up losing in PK's. The following year we gave up a goal 5 minutes in and didn't recover and lost 1-0.

"When you get down to the final eight teams left in the country, everyone is solid and you have to play your best both attacking wise and defensively."

The Lady Cougars, who are undefeated at 21-0-1, advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Wingate 1-0 in the second round of the Southeast Region last Sunday and Lenori-Rhyne 1-0 on Friday for the regional championship.

Rollins is 18-2. It also won a pair of 1-0 matches to advance. Last Sunday against Valdosta State and Friday against Saint Leo.

CSU beat Rollins 1-0 earlier this season. The match was played at West Florida in Pensacola on Sept. 14.

"After playing Rollins the fourth game of the year and also watching them play last night, they are a very good soccer team from back to front," Entlich said. "Their entire roster has great qualities and they play a very good brand of soccer. They are good in the air and can posses on the ground. They are very well coached and have great leadership with their senior players."

The time for the match has been moved up to 11 a.m. due to a weather forecast that calls for afternoon thunderstorms in the Central Florida area.