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Contact: David Beall, firstname.lastname@example.org
DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia women's soccer is set to take on nationally ranked UNC Pembroke on Saturday afternoon at the North Georgia Soccer Complex in what will feature two of the top teams in the Peach Belt Conference.
The matchup against the Braves will lead in to a three-game road trip for the Lady Saints, traveling to Belmont Abbey, the University of Montevallo and Clayton State to close out the month of September.
UNC Pembroke Braves Body of Work
Last season: 16-4-2 (7-2-1 PBC)
Conference Finish: 3rd
Conference Prediction in 2011: 4th
Goal Differential Last Season: +23
Braves Expectations – Following an NCAA Tournament birth a year ago, the Braves are off to a hot start again with a 4-0-1 mark and a spot in the NSCAA National top 25. Picked to finish 3rd in the league, the Braves have already knocked off 14th-ranked Columbus State in their conference opener and looked poised to make a run at the regular season championship.
Rock Wall in Goal – The Braves return one of the best keepers in the league, as last year's PBC Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-Conference selection Britney Bennett has played and started in all five games for UNC Pembroke this season. With 27 saves, four shutouts, a goals against average of 0.20 and a save percentage of .967, Bennett continues to be one of the best keepers in the southeast region.
Unexpected Offense – Andrea Collen has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves' offense this season as the junior put up six points in the opening game and currently has four goals and two assists on the young year. After logging just eight points last season, Collen equaled that total just three games into the 2011 campaign and currently leads UNC Pembroke with 10 points, including the overtime game-winner against No. 14 Columbus State last week.
Replacing the Best – While Collen has emerged as a goal scorer for the Braves, they have to replace the league's second leading scorer from a year ago, as Anna Svensson capped off last season with 17 goals and five assists for 39 total points.
History of the Matchup – UNC Pembroke has dominated the all-time series between the two schools, holding a 5-1 edge, including four straight wins dating back to the 2007 season. In the last five meetings between the two programs, each game has been decided by a single goal, including last year's double overtime 1-0 victory by the Braves in North Carolina. North Georgia's only win in the series came in 2006 with a 3-2 victory in Dahlonega.
Dover's Dominance – Emily Dover has been dominant for head coach Chris Adams over the last two games, recording eight points, including a pair of goals against Alabama-Huntsville that featured the game-winner in the 33rd minute. She then came back in the team's Peach Belt Conference opener and tallied a goal and an assist to pace North Georgia past the Pacers. The senior striker is tied for the team lead in goals with three, sitting deadlocked with Kelly Penston who will be looking to score her fourth goal in as many games on Saturday afternoon.
Kirsten's Defense – The North Georgia defense, led by goalkeeper Kirsten Ross, continues to shut down teams as the season rolls into the fifth game of the season. While Ross has a goals against average of 0.52, the back line of Taylor Lee, Megan Morrow, Melanie Thompson and Emily Bowen have only allowed 26 shots by opponents with just 14 of those on target. Of those 14 shots, 12 of them have resulted in saves for Ross, while the senior has allowed single goals against Mount Olive and Alabama-Huntsville.
Outscoring the Opponent – While the Lady Saints have scored multiple goals in all four of their games this season, the Braves have scored single goals in each of their last three games, with one resulting in a 1-1 tie against Mount Olive, a team North Georgia defeated 2-1 on the road. Taking away UNC Pembroke's 13-0 laugher over Barton College to open the year, the Braves have scored just seven goals in their last four games, compared to 13 for North Georgia.
What to Expect – North Georgia is coming off one of the most dominant Peach Belt Conference wins in recent history with a 5-0 beat down of previously unbeaten USC Aiken. With history in favor of the Braves, the Lady Saints are looking to break their longest losing streak against any PBC school and hold on to the top spot in the league. The key for the Lady Saints will be continuing a trend of scoring multiple goals in a game, but North Georgia will have to do it against one of the best keepers they will face all year.