Posted: Saturday, November 12th 2011 at 12:59am
Lady Saints push past Wingate in NCAA tourney opener
SAVANNAH -– The 25th-ranked and 4th-seeded North Georgia women's soccer team used timely defense and a pair of second-half goals on Friday afternoon to soar past 5th-seeded Wingate University 3-1 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
North Georgia (16-2-1) refused to have the final chapter written on their already storied season, as they proved resilient in the second half and buried Wingate (16-4) to put a lid on the 2011 campaign for the Bulldogs.
A two-minute span early in the second half was the difference in the game, as Wingate used a goal from Miranda Izabella in the 46th minute to knot the score, but just 60 seconds later Bulldog goalkeeper Miriam Boucher was awarded a red card to swing the tide right back to North Georgia.
Playing up a man the rest of the game, North Georgia pelted the Wingate defense over the final 43 minutes and finally broke the tie in the 69th minute when Taylor Lee sent a corner kick in the box and Natalie Douglass fought her way to the ball and headed home her fifth goal of the year to give the Lady Saints a 2-1 advantage. The senior tallied her 2nd game-winner in the last three contests with the score.
North Georgia added some breathing room in the 77th minute when Caroline Wallace sent a cross in from the corner and Cicely Taliaferro was waiting at the far post and fired a header past Wingate keeper Ashlyn Hardie to give the Lady Saints a 3-1 lead.
While Wallace assisted on the final goal of the game, she was on the receiving end early when Abby Trevino and Melanie Thompson connected on back-to-back headers in the box in the 9th minute and Wallace finished with a bouncing header over the line to give North Georgia the early lead. The goal was the first-ever score for the Lady Saints in the NCAA Tournament and propelled North Georgia to a 1-0 halftime advantage.
Kirsten Ross picked up the win for the Lady Saints in goal, allowing just the one Wingate goal and tallying eight saves on the game with six of those coming in the second half. Hardie allowed both North Georgia goals in the final 45 minutes and suffered the loss while recording four saves.
The Lady Saints made the most of their five corner kicks, scoring on two of them with one coming in each half. North Georgia held an 18-15 edge in shots, while the Lady Saints were whistled for 11 fouls to five for the Bulldogs.
North Georgia now advances to the round of 32 and will take 7th-ranked and top-seeded Armstrong Atlantic on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. In the only meeting between the two teams this season, the Lady Saints scored a late goal and forced a 1-1 tie in the final game of the regular season.
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