GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s soccer (1-0) opened the 2018 regular season with a 2-1 win over Gardner-Webb (0-1) Friday night at UNCG Soccer Stadium. All three goals came in a 10-minute span in the second half, and Kaley Tucker provided the game-winner for the Spartans in the 57th minute.
“The game tonight was very enjoyable,” said head coach Michael Coll. “It was a big crowd of almost 900 people. It was a fair game, and we took our goals very well. We created even more chances, so I think we entertained the crowd for sure. Gardner-Webb, a team I’ve never seen before, was impressive tonight. They’re a team I think will do damage in the Big South Conference.
Tucker’s goal came of a Gardner-Webb turnover. The goalkeeper tried to pass the ball to a defender on a goal kick, but Tucker picked it off and quickly shot it from a few yards outside of the box over the goalkeeper’s head.
Isabelle Blomdahl scored the game’s first goal and the first of her collegiate career in the 47th minute. After goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper punted the ball out of her box, a Gardner-Webb defender headed it backwards right to Blomdahl, who then dribbled the ball and scored from the middle of the box.
Gardner-Webb tied the game up eight minutes later. Jada Newton received a cross into the box from Stina Kleppe and chipped it past Tyler-Cooper into the left side of the net.
“It’s pretty important that we can respond to adversity like we had in the second half,” said Coll. “Especially at home, if we do have designs on winning games this year and challenging for a conference title. It was a wonderful thing, especially since we had eight freshmen play tonight, four starters and four off the bench. We can build off of this for future times.”
Kayla Campbell, Gracie Timbario, Nicole Souply and Blomdahl were the four freshmen who started for UNCG. Rachel Rouse, Natalie Sabiston, Caroline Fiorella and Jordin Mosley all made their collegiate debuts coming off the bench.
Possessing the ball for a clear majority of the game, the Spartans owned a 16-9 shots and 7-5 corner kicks advantage. The gap was the widest in the second half as UNCG outshot Gardner-Webb 9-4 with five of the shots on goal.
Tyler-Cooper (1-0) registered two saves.
The game also marked the debut of the new student group at UNCG, the G Force. The group more than provided to the atmosphere of the crowd of 888.
“The G-Force was absolutely brilliant tonight,” said Coll. “Such a wonderful addition to UNCG Athletics, they were so vocal and encouraging for us. Just awesome, and I can’t wait to have them back for our home games.”
UNCG will go on the road for the first time this year to face in-state rival Elon Sunday at 7 p.m.
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