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DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia women's soccer team is slated to battle Belmont Abbey on Tuesday afternoon in a non-conference game. Lady Saints enter the game 5-0 on the season and on the brink of a national ranking, while the Crusaders have lost three of their first five games to open the year.
Belmont Abbey Crusaders Body of Work
Current Record: 2-3-0 (2-0-0 CC)
Conference Rank: 1st
Conference Prediction in 2011: 1st
Goal Differential in 2011: -5
Crusaders Expectations – Following an NCAA Tournament birth a year ago, the Crusaders were once again picked to make a deep run in the playoffs when the Conference Carolinas selected Belmont Abbey to capture an unprecedented seventh straight conference championship. After a rough start to the season with back-to-back losses in Florida, the Crusaders are back on their feet and have started the season 2-0 in league action.
Limited Production – While the Crusaders tallied 51 goals in 22 games a year ago, they have struggled to find the back of the net in 2011, scoring just four goals in five games. In their three losses this season, two of them have been shutouts at the hands of Rollins College and Lynn University, while 8th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne came away with a convincing 4-1 victory at home.
History of the Matchup – These two teams have a history of close games and dramatic finishes over the last two years in the only meetings between the programs. A pair of 1-0 finishes featured goals in the last five minutes of regulation to decide the outcome with the road team coming out on top in both contests. Last year's 86th minute goal sent North Georgia to their first loss of the season, but the defeat catapulted the Lady Saints to a program-best 11 straight wins.
Rebounding – With defense and last minute goals becoming a theme in this series, it will be crucial to score early and put pressure on the opponent. The Lady Saints have scored first in every game but one, and they proved resilient at Mount Olive, bouncing back from a 1-0 deficit at the half for a 2-1 victory on the road. The Crusaders have yet to come from behind for a victory, firing shutouts in both wins this season
Home Sweet Home – Belmont Abbey has started the year with five straight road games and play their home opener against North Georgia. The Crusaders have not lost a game at Alumni Field in two years, going 13 straight contests without a loss, dating back to a 1-0 loss to Erskine College on final day of the regular season during the 2009 campaign. The Lady Saints have plenty of good memories in 2009 at Alumni Field, taking down Belmont Abbey 1-0 to hand the Crusaders their first home loss of the year.
Fast Starts – The Lady Saints are currently off to their best start in school history in 2011, sitting at 5-0 on the year heading into Tuesday's non-conference tilt at Belmont Abbey. North Georgia's previous best unbeaten mark to start a season came in 2007 when the squad was cruising at 4-0 until a road loss at the University of Alabama-Huntsville sent North Georgia to four losses in five games.
Ranked Success – The Lady Saints are coming off an upset of 15th-ranked UNC Pembroke to take over sole possession of first place in the PBC and become the final unbeaten team in the Peach Belt Conference. In their last six games against ranked opponents, North Georgia is 3-3, but the Lady Saints have faired well after facing a tough opponent. Chris Adams' squads have avoided the let down more times then not, going 4-2 following a game against a ranked team.