Padgett's second-half strike lifts Spartans past Utah, 1-0
ATHENS, Ga. – Sophomore Tabitha Padgett scored in the 66th minute to break a scoreless draw and UNCG's defense did the rest as the Spartans topped Utah 1-0 at the Georgia Nike Invitational on Sunday.
Padgett, the reigning Southern Conference Co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, chipped Utah keeper Hannah Turpen at the 65:24 mark for the game's lone goal. Cat Barnekow and Jaimey Etten picked up assists on the play, as Etten started the play with a pass to Barnekow, who slipped the ball to Padgett.
UNCG (3-0) kept the pressure on looking for insurance, with freshman Kristen Schmidbauer and junior Etten forcing Turpen saves in the next seven minutes.
Utah (0-4) had its chances in the contest, but saw three shots hit posts. The Utes had an excellent chance to go on top early, but Lauren Dudley's attempt found the post in the fifth minute. The Utes had some more bad luck in the 17th minute, as Erin Dalley's shot again drew iron. Dalley put yet another shot off the post in the 50th minute.
"It's great to get the win," UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski said. "Any time you can get a win on the road, that's good. Any time you beat a team from the West region, that's a good result. I expected it to be a close game. Utah does a good job. They get a lot of people behind the ball, they make it difficult to play and they defend well.
"For an 11 a.m. game, I thought it would be a bit choppy play at times, and it was. I thought we did a nice job of really just finding a way to get it done and grind out the result. Sometimes you have to do that. That's the sign of a good team, when maybe you're not playing at your best, but you find a way to win."
UNCG keeper Kelsey Kearney made four saves for her second shutout of the season and 21st of her career. That moved her into a tie for second place in school history with Kathryn Clewley, who had 21 shutouts from 1998-2001. Kearney is now just four shy of the school record of 25 set by Jennifer Stillman from 2002-05.
The Utes put the pressure on Kearney to start the second half, with Lexi Krantz forcing a save in the 47th minute, Talley hitting the post in the 50th and Utah getting a corner kick shortly thereafter.
The Spartans weathered the storm and turned the tables, starting with a Padgett shot in the 55th minute that Turpen saved. UNCG rattled off four corner kicks over the next five minutes before Padgett finally found the back of the net in the 66th.
Schmidbauer led UNCG with five shots on the day, while Dalley had four to lead Utah.
Turpen made six saves and allowed one goal.
Despite the Spartans' storied history, the win moved UNCG to 3-0 on the season for the first time in school history.
The Spartans return to action next weekend at the Under Armour Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. UNCG will play Southern Cal on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern and host Cal State Fullerton on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
UNCG 1, Utah 0
UNCG 0 1 1
Utah 0 0 0
1 65:24 UNCG Tabitha Padgett (2) (Jaimey Etten;Cat Barnekow) - chipped over keeper from front
Shots: UNCG 16, Utah 10
Saves: UNCG 4 (Kelsey Kearney 4), Utah 6 (TURPEN, Hannah 6)
Corner kicks: UNCG 6, Utah 6
Fouls: UNCG 13, Utah 8
- UNCG -