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DAHLONEGA, GA – The 11th-ranked North Georgia women's soccer team has their biggest road test of the year staring them in the face on Wednesday evening, as they travel to Columbus State to take on the Cougars in another Peach Belt Conference contest.
The Lady Saints and Columbus State have played virtually opposite conference schedules so far this year with their only common opponents coming against Flagler and UNC Pembroke. Both squads bounced Flagler with ease, combining to score seven goals, but the Cougars fell 1-0 in overtime to the Braves in their PBC opener, while North Georgia turned UNCP into their finest hour with a double overtime thriller over the Braves.
The Lady Saints enter their final road trip of the year this week, playing Columbus State on Wednesday before traveling to Georgia College for the final road game of the regular season. North Georgia ends the year just like Chris Adams drew it up, playing four straight home games with three of them coming against Peach Belt Conference schools.
Columbus State Cougars Body of Work
Current Record: 8-3-2 (3-2-1 PBC)
Conference Rank: 4th
Conference Prediction in 2011: 2nd
Goal Differential in 2011: +20
Last Meeting (2010): #10 Columbus State 5, North Georgia 0
The Rivalry Continues – The North Georgia and Columbus State matchup has quickly turned into one of the best rivalries in the league over the last three years and Wednesday evening should be no different. The Cougars hold a 7-1 mark all-time against the Lady Saints with a 25-5 edge in goals, but North Georgia has some recent success against their in-state rival and will look to continue their perfect season under the lights in Columbus, Georgia.
Success at Walden – While most schools go to die at Columbus State's Walden Soccer Complex, the Lady Saints have thrived there over the last two years, winning three straight games on the Cougars' home field. In 2009, the Lady Saints did the unthinkable when they shocked then 3rd-ranked Columbus State 1-0 to hand the Cougars their first Peach Belt Conference loss in over four years. The game's lone goal by Kelsey Martin in the 5th minute handed CSU their only regular season loss of the year. North Georgia also traveled to Columbus State in 2010 for a pair of neutral site games against the Sunshine State Conference and they did not disappoint, upsetting Florida Tech and 13th-ranked Florida Southern. The Lady Saints will have plenty of good memories to pull from when they step on the field Wednesday evening at one of the finest facilities in the league.
Reversed Roles – In the last three meetings between the two schools, Columbus State has been nationally ranked on each occasion, and has entered the trio of games with a combined record of 29-3-2. The Cougars have been ranked in the top 15 in the land in all three games, including a No. 3 ranking in 2009 when North Georgia slid past the national powerhouse 1-0. The roles are reversed this year however, as the Lady Saints are the ones ranked in the top 15 in the country and sport a perfect 10-0 record as the only remaining unbeaten team in the southeast.
Soaring to the Top – After the first two games of the year, North Georgia was 2-0 and heading in the right direction, but they had still not received any production from Emily Dover who was expected to lead the offensive surge during her senior campaign. The Georgia native has gone scoreless in just one game since, putting a league-leading 10 goals beside her name over the last eight games, including six scores in just the last four contests. She leads the Peach Belt Conference with four game-winning goals on the year and is making a push for the program's first-ever PBC Player of the Year honor. In less than two seasons, Dover is second in program history with 17 career goals, as she looks to lead North Georgia to a PBC Regular Season Championship and the NCAA Tournament.
Lowery's World – If North Georgia wants to improve to 11-0 on the year, they will have to contain Columbus State's All-American midfielder, Stephanie Lowery. The senior was named the PBC Player of the Year and Southeast Region Player of the Year last season and is currently tied for fifth in the league with seven goals during her 2011 campaign. While she only has one goal in the last four games, Lowery has a flare for the dramatics after tallying seven game-winners a year ago and two more this season.
Kelsey's Help – While Emily Dover has dominated the headlines with her goal scoring, Kelsey Martin has quietly accumulated six assists on the year, a statistic that leads the Peach Belt Conference. Martin, who was named the PBC Freshman of the Year in 2009, has three assists in the last four games to go along with three goals on the season. She has been directly involved in Dover's success as well, adding assists in four of her league-leading 10 goals.