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DAHLONEGA, GA - The North Georgia men's soccer team has been pouring in the goals of late and hopes to continue the success this weekend when they travel to the state of Alabama to take on the University of Montevallo.
The Saints will be trying to improve their record to 3-0 in the Peach Belt this season. On Tuesday, North Georgia smacked Alabama-Huntsville, 6-2. Manuel Hernandez scored two goals in the game while Jesy Phelps added two assists along with a goal of his own.
The University of Montevallo Falcons
Current Overall Record: 4-2-1 (0-0-1 PBC)
Last Year: 18-2-2 (5-2-1 PBC)
Goal Differential: +6
Starters Returning: 5
Conference Prediction: 3rd
Saints Scoring - What's going on with North Georgia putting up the goals? The Saints under Pat Parris have historically been a defensive minded team, this year, they are scoring in bunches. The Saints have scored multiple goals in four of their seven games this season, including nine in the past two games. Whether the formation has switched or the players are just living up to their talent, North Georgia seems to have figured it out.
Is this the Year? Since North Georgia has joined the Peach Belt, Montevallo has simply owned them. The Saints are 0-5-1 over the past six seasons against the Falcons. It's a monkey that Pat Parris would love to get off his back, and this may be the season to do it. The Saints are playing some of their best soccer as of late and now at 2-0, it would be as good a time as any.
Identical Records - Both North Georgia and Montevallo will enter Saturday's game with identical 4-2-1 records. When going by the numbers, the Saints have played a much tougher schedule. Having played two ranked teams, along with streaking UNC Pembroke and Alabama-Huntsville, the Saints have challenged themselves out of the gate. The Falcons, however, have beaten the teams they should and lost to those above them.
Stop Shane Howard - The Montevallo junior has scored five goals this season to lead his team. He is also second in the Peach Belt in shots attempted. It's clear the Falcons have a go-to threat in Howard and so far he has proven to be the answer. He has scored the game-winning goal in two of the four wins for Montevallo this season.
What's Up with Alabama-Huntsville? What happened when the Saints put up six goals against the surging Chargers on Tuesday (UAH recently defeated Montevallo and Georgia Southwestern)? What happened when Montevallo lost to UAH, 3-1 the week before? Huntsville has been hit or miss this year, that's seems to be true, but Montevallo also started this season ranked in the NSCAA Top 20. There really is no reason the Saints should have put up six goals, there is also no reason that Montevallo should have lost to Huntsville by two goals.
Dominating Defense - Let's face it, the Saints should have beaten Lenoir-Rhyne last week after outshooting the Bears 18-4. Lenoir-Rhyne scored on their only shot on goal in the game late in the second half. Nevertheless they lost, but that wasn't because the defense didn't play well. The Saints have allowed two penalty kick goals over their past two games, and when you take those away, there's been some quality defense being played. Zachry Samples, who won PBC Defensive Player of the Week, along with Payne Wright and Ben Tayi, combined to shut down UNC Pembroke, the highest scoring team in the country, right before taking down Huntsville in dominating fashion.
Balance Bound - Because the Saints have always played good defense, they allowed themselves to be in every game. The problem was the offense was stagnant, and would put zeroes on the scoreboard way too much; that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Coach Parris has seemed to find a balance in the way North Georgia plays, and it's working. With the offense clicking on all cylinders and the defense solid as always, the Saints are on the verge of having one of their most successful seasons under Parris.