GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG junior defender Emily Jensen (Nelson, New Zealand/Santa Clara) scored her second career game-winning goal in the 105th minute to lead the Spartans to a thrilling 4-3 double overtime victory over Wofford in the Southern Conference opener for both teams at Snyder Field Friday night. The Spartans ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first half, only to see Wofford score three early in the second half before UNCG won the game in golden fashion.
The Spartans (4-5-1, 1-0-0 SoCon) picked up their second-straight victory as they came out of the gate on fire, mounting their largest lead of the year at halftime (three goals). Senior Regan Lehman (Wilmington, Del./Padua Academy) gave the Spartans the early lead in the 20th minute of action as she scored her first of the season off a corner kick. Senior Melanie Spensiero (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) sent a low ball into the box and Lehman beat Wofford goalkeeper Mayson Liner to the ball, poking it past the goalkeeper from just four-yards out.
The Spartans kept the momentum going in the 36th minute of play as sophomore Kaley Tucker (Littleton, Colo./Thunder Ridge) scored her first career goal to give UNCG a 2-0 lead. The Spartans won the ball in the midfield and sent a pass to freshman Quiqui Hita (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier College Prep) at the top of the 18-yard box. Hita sent a perfectly weighted ball into the box where it found Tucker, who slipped it past the on-charging Liner for the two-goal cushion.
UNCG extended its lead to a season-best three goals in the 41st minute as Lehman again struck, notching her second of the game and season. Sophomore Cienna Rideout (Las Vegas, Nev./Coronado) made a run into the 18-yard box and was hauled down by the Terrier defender, awarding the Spartans a penalty kick. Lehman stepped up and calmly buried the penalty kick to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Wofford (4-5-0, 0-1-0 SoCon) came out of the halftime break and chipped away at the deficit almost immediately, scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half to tie the game at 3-3. Haley Younginer, the SoCon’s leading scorer, scoring all three goals for the Terriers, giving her 16 goals in nine games this year. Younginer scored goals in the 52nd, 54th and 60th minutes for Wofford as the Terriers erased the deficit in a span of 8:06 on the clock.
The teams traded chances for the final 30 minutes of the second half. Freshman goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper (Charlottesville, Va./Albermarle) made a pair of saves in the second half to keep the game tied. Tyler-Cooper also got some help from the cross bar in the 82nd minute of play as Catie Slater saw her chance from 18-yards out hit the cross bar and stay out.
The Spartans weathered the second half surge by the Terriers and held control in the first overtime. UNCG went into the second overtime period with the momentum and kept Wofford on its heels. The Spartans controlled play and their aggressiveness led to a corner kick in the 105th minute as Rideout’s chance behind the Terrier defense was blocked out of play.
Sophomore defender Ashton Duty (Waxhaw, N.C./Cuthbertson) took the corner kick and sent a long ball to the back post. Jensen beat three Wofford defenders to the ball and her header flew past Liner for the game-winning goal and the 4-3 victory.
Tyler-Copper finished the game with seven saves in the victory, her first career SoCon win while Liner posted just two saves in the loss for the Terriers. UNCG will look to continue its winning ways Sunday afternoon when it travels to Greenville, S.C., for a meeting against Furman. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at Stone Soccer Stadium.
-- UNCG --