DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The North Georgia College & State University men's soccer team played with extreme spirit Saturday night in front of their home crowd. However, despite setting an extremely fast pace that pushed No. 18 Young Harris College to its limit, the Saints fell 3-2 in their Peach Belt Conference opener.
The Saints start the conference campaign 0-1 with a 2-3 record overall while the Mountain Lions begin PBC play 1-0 with a 5-0 record.
The first half of the game saw two major momentum swings as Young Harris controlled the early going. The Mountain Lions scored their first two goals four minutes apart with the first score coming just 12 minutes into the game.
William Schonfeldt headed the ball into the net off a corner by Lewis Hilton for the first score before Hilton scored a goal of his own to clean up Khurram Shazad's play into the box.
Despite being down 2-0 early, the Saints did not give up and kept pressuring the Young Harris defense and, eventually, it paid off as Ashley Walker scored an own goal in the 29th-minute.
With the deficit cut in half, Pat Parris' men turned up the heat even more and just five minutes later, freshman Amin El-Shami scored an unassisted goal – the first of his career. Leading up to the score, El-Shami made a beautiful tackle on a Young Harris defender to capture the ball, then turned and took the ball into the box for the score.
The two went into half time tied at 2-2, but it was Young Harris that came out with just a little more energy. Andreas Pechmann scored 14 minutes into the second stanza to break the tie and eventually win the game for the Mountain Lions.
The Saints gave it everything they had in the closing minutes, but were unable to break through to find the equalizer.
The two squads were even in shots (16-16) and both goalies made six saves, but Young Harris held the slight advantage in corner kicks (8-6).
North Georgia's next two games will be on the road and out of conference. The Saints will first travel on Wednesday, Sept. 19 to Lees-McRae located in Banner Elk, N.C. for a 3:00 p.m. match before traveling to Anderson, S.C. to take on Anderson University on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 4:00 p.m.