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DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia women's soccer squad looks to build on a strong start to the season this week as they play a pair of games, one of which is their first conference matchup of the season. The Lady Saints will play their first PBC match on Saturday traveling to USC Aiken.
Head coach Chris Adams got two strong performances from his squad over the weekend, outscoring their opponents 4-1 to secure themselves the Conference Carolinas sweep. The Lady Saints needed a comeback victory on Sunday in Mount Olive and got just that as Kelly Penston found the back of the net to boost North Georgia from behind 2-1 over the Trojans. The Lady Saints now take their 2-0 record into the second week of the season, here's what's on tap.
University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers
Body of Work
Current Record: 1-1
Last Season: 8-8 (3-4 GSC; 6th in conference)
Conference Prediction in 2011: 4th
Goal Differential in 2010/2011: +2/0
Expectations - The Chargers come into this season after finishing middle of the road last year. UAH is picked to finish right about where they finished last season behind West Florida, North Alabama and Christian Brothers. The climb to the top of the GSC goes right through those three squads, and the climb is a pretty steep one. If UAH plays well this season and find themselves right in the thick of things come the last couple weeks of the season, it may be to their advantage; the Chargers play North Alabama and West Florida both at home to end the conference season.
Good News - UAH somehow managed to win and lose every other game last season, meaning they never won or lost two games in a row. Not losing consecutive games is something to hang their hats on as well as not losing to the teams that the Chargers finish ahead of. UAH went 2-1 last season against the PBC, beating Clayton State and Georgia Southwestern. UAH also plays 11 games on their home turf this season, as opposed to just the six away from Huntsville.
Bad News - Lincoln Memorial, a team picked seventh in the SAC this season, came into Huntsville on Sunday afternoon and downed the Chargers in extra time, 2-1. It may be early, but it looks like UAH is back to their trend of win-lose-win-lose after beating Delta State to start the season. The Chargers only have five starters returning from a squad that finished .500 last season; the touted newcomers must step in quick and be effective if Huntsville looks to get over the hump.
Chargers vs. Saints - UAH will be playing its only road contest in its first six games of the year while North Georgia has already experienced the home and away atmosphere. Both teams have expectations, and rightly so, of finishing in the top three of their respective conferences. While the Saints look to take a 3-0 record into their conference opener this weekend, the Chargers will look to keep their consistent ways and not lose back to back games for the first time since 2009.
University of South Carolina-Aiken Pacers
Body of Work
Current Record: 2-0
Last Season: 5-11-5 (0-8-2 PBC; 11th in conference)
Conference Prediction in 2011: 10th
Goal Differential in 2010/2011: -6(-20 in PBC)/+2
Expectations - Being selected to finish 10th in the 11-team league is anything but high expectations, but the Pacers will have a chip on their shoulder and will be playing with essentially nothing to lose. USC Aiken may have the advantage of sneaking up on some teams this season, but it will take plenty of strong, quality performances to get the end results.
Good News - In the five games the Pacers won last year against the Conference Carolinas and the South Atlantic Conference, they outscored their opponents 20-3.
Bad News - The Pacers play in the Peach Belt Conference, where they hold a 2-16-2 record over the past two seasons.
Good News - Aiken is 2-0 to start off the season for the first time since 2005.
Bad News - Aiken hasn't beaten North Georgia since 2006, going 0-3-1 and getting outscored 8-2 in that time.
Pacers vs. Saints – In a match-up, which the Saints have owned in recent memory, both teams are looking to start the conference season off on the right foot. The Saints can't find themselves looking ahead to UNC Pembroke, a team the coaches voted similar to North Georgia for third best in the league. The Lady Saints must get off the bus in South Carolina ready to play, or they'll be kicking themselves all the way home for letting a very winnable game slip away.
As always, be sure to follow the Saints upcoming matchups on the web at www.SaintsSports.com and on Twitter at @SaintsSports. Wednesday will be a double-header for the Saints soccer squads as the women kickoff at 4:00 pm and the men are set to kickoff at 7:00 pm against the University of Tampa. The match-up will again continue the tradition of Loyal Blue, giving free t-shirts to those who have not yet started adding up the points.