Saints Claw Their Way Past Bears in Home Opener
– The North Georgia men's soccer team stayed undefeated on
the season Wednesday evening, scoring a pair of first-half goals on
their way to a 2-1 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne University at the
Soccer Complex in non-conference action.
The Saints improve to 2-0-1 on the year in the first of five straight home games, while the Bears fall to 1-1 on the season. North Georgia will continue their longest home stand of the year on Saturday evening.
With both teams playing to a scoreless tie for the first 30 minutes, North Georgia's Chris Griffith broke the deadlock in the 31st minute, taking a pass from Jesy Phelps and belting a shot from the top of the box that just cleared the keeper's reach to give the Saints a 1-0 advantage. For Griffith, it was his first goal of the season, while Phelps tallied his first assist in a North Georgia uniform.
Less than two minutes later at the 31:56 mark, Juan Hurtado struck gold and sent a laser shot past goalkeeper Tom Heath to put the Saints up 2-0. Hurtado and Chedgy both tallied their first goal assist of the year respectively, a score that turned out to be the game winner.
In the final minutes, Lenoir-Rhyne came to life and Dave Bailey cut the North Georgia lead in half, taking a pass from Chibuzo Nwosu and finding the right side of the net at the 86:03 mark. For Bailey, his second goal in as many games brought the Bears to within a goal, but the Saints held on in the final four minutes to capture the 2-1 win.
Rade Tanaskovic was stellar in goal for the Saints, tallying a season-high seven saves, while allowing the single goal in the final moments. L-R's Heath allowed both North Georgia goals while picking up just one save.
Lenoir-Rhyne held an 11-10 advantage in shots, while the Saints registered six corner kicks to just three for the Bears. North Georgia's regulation victory is the first game for the Saints to end in regulation, having played two games into double overtime to open the season.
The Saints will now prepare for Saturday's Peach Belt Conference opener against USC Aiken, playing host to the Pacers with a primetime 7:30 p.m. kickoff at the Soccer Complex.