Jones' late strike lifts UNCG past Georgia Southern, 2-1
STATESBORO, Ga. – Redshirt sophomore Nitang Jones scored her first career goal in the 88th minute Friday, lifting UNCG's women's soccer team to a dramatic 2-1 road win over Georgia Southern in Southern Conference action at Eagle Field.
The Spartans (3-7-0, 2-1-0 SoCon), who trailed 1-0 as late as the 76th minute, were just minutes from heading to overtime before Jones' decisive strike. The Raleigh, N.C., native made sure that wasn't necessary, taking a Lauren Lover pass and blasting a rocket from 35 yards out for the game-winner.
"Quite frankly, I think we were lucky to win," UNCG coach Steve Nugent said. "We didn't play very well. We were not very good in possession, we were out of rhythm, and a lot of that has to do with how Georgia Southern defended us. … Georgia Southern played with more passion than we did, they played with more energy than we did, but we found a way to score two goals and they didn't."
With her goal, Jones became the eighth different player to score for UNCG this season.
"She took a great first touch to beat the defender that was coming at her," Nugent said. "Nitang has tremendous technical ability. When she gets her shoulders square to a target like that, she can be pretty deadly, and she was today. It wasn't a looper. It was a direct shot that had tremendous pace and was tough for the keeper to read, and it went just under the bar."
GSU (2-7-1, 0-3-0 SoCon) took a 1-0 lead on Courtney Collins' strike just after halftime, converting a saved shot by Sara Oland to break up the shutout in the 48th minute.
Redshirt senior Kristin Player pulled the Spartans level in the 76th, however, collecting a loose ball in the 6-yard box and pounding it home for her team-leading third goal of the season. The score was the 27th of her career, moving her into sole possession of seventh on UNCG's career list. The forward from Placentia, Calif., also moved into seventh in school history in career points (74).
Junior midfielder Karin Sendel nearly put UNCG on top in the first half, but her shot smacked off the crossbar in the 38th minute to keep the game scoreless at the time.
The Spartans dominated the contest statistically, outshooting the Eagles 18-7, including a 9-2 advantage in the first half. Player and freshman Ashley Stokes led UNCG with three shots each, while Paige Grant paced the GSU offense with two.
UNCG keeper Kelsey Kearney made five saves in the game, pushing her career total to 234 and moving her into sole possession of fourth place in school history in that category.
Georgia Southern keeper Kailey Kiefus made six stops for the Eagles.
The win was UNCG's ninth straight over Georgia Southern. The Eagles' last win over the Spartans came in 2002.
UNCG, which improved to 2-1 in true road matches this season, returns to action Sunday at Davidson. That contest is slated for a 2 p.m. start.
UNCG 2, Georgia Southern 1
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
UNCG................ 0 2 - 2
Georgia Southern.... 0 1 - 1
1. 47:53 GSU Courtney Collins (4) (Sara Oland)
2. 75:27 UNCG Kristin Player (3) (unassisted)
3. 87:53 UNCG Nitang Jones (2) (Lauren Lover)
Shots: UNCG 18, Georgia Southern 7; Saves: UNCG 5 (Kelsey Kearney 5), Georgia Southern 6 (Kailey Kiefus 6); Corner kicks: UNCG 3, Georgia Southern 2; Fouls: UNCG 11, Georgia Southern 8
- UNCG -