October 27, 2011

Lady Saints to Host Armstrong Saturday for PBC Title

Contact: David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu

DAHLONEGA, GA – The 11th-ranked North Georgia women's soccer team is set to play the biggest game in program history this weekend when they host 18th-ranked Armstrong Atlantic Saturday afternoon with the Peach Belt Conference regular season championship on the line.

The Lady Saints (14-1, 8-1) are one victory away from the most wins in school history and have been ranked in the national top 25 for six consecutive weeks during their remarkable run.

With the Pirates at 9-0 on the year in league play and the Lady Saints at 8-1, Armstrong has already clinched a share of the PBC regular season championship and can take the title outright with a win or a tie on Saturday. North Georgia can claim a share of the championship with a win and would hold the tiebreaker for the No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming PBC Tournament.

While the last 15 games have been remarkable and the best start in school history, North Georgia's season starts Saturday afternoon when they play their second ranked team of the year in hopes of capturing the first conference title in program history to set themselves up for success in the PBC Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

Armstrong Atlantic Pirates Body of Work
Current Record: 12-2-2 (9-0 PBC)
Conference Rank: 1st
Conference Prediction in 2011: 1st
Goal Differential in 2011: +26 (42-16)
Last Meeting (2010 PBC Tournament Semis): North Georgia 3, Armstrong 1

Here we Go – North Georgia and Armstrong Atlantic have had their regular season finale circled on the calendar when the schedules were released over the summer, but no one could have imagined the championship would come down to 90 minutes of action, or who knows, maybe we will be lucky enough to witness a golden goal for the title.

Rivalry Renewed – North Georgia is just 3-6 all-time against Armstrong, but the Lady Saints have had plenty of recent success against their in-state counterpart with all three of their victories coming in the last five meetings. Last season, North Georgia suffered a 2-1 loss on the road in the regular season, but the Lady Saints had the last laugh with a 3-1 victory in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament to advance to the title game. The last two meetings between the programs in Dahlonega have resulted in a slew of goals and a win for each team. In 2007, the Pirates won a 5-4 thriller on the road, but North Georgia got the best of Armstrong in 2009 with a 2-1 victory.

Game Changers – There will be a handful of players on the field Saturday that can single handedly step up and change the game at any moment. Two of the top candidates for PBC Player of the Year will go head-to-head with Armstrong's Kristina Pascutti and North Georgia's Emily Dover getting one more chance to prove they deserve the top honor in the league. Dover leads the conference in goals with 13 and points with 31, while Pascutti is third in goals with 10 and tied for fifth in points with 21. If one of these two stars has a big day they will likely hand their team the regular season trophy while accepting Player of the Year honors at the same time. 

Overcoming Adversity – In the last seven games between North Georgia and Armstrong, four of them have been decided by one goal with the remaining three decided by just two scores. Expect Saturday to be the exact same, but the key will be who rebounds when they face adversity. Neither one of these teams have faced many deficits this season, posting a combined record of 26-3-2 on the year. The Pirates have trailed in three of their 12 wins this season, posting comebacks against Lander, Catawba and Tusculum. The win on the road at Catawba was an early two-goal deficit that turned into a 3-2 double overtime win in dramatic fashion. The Lady Saints have faced just one deficit on the year in their 14 wins, falling behind at Mount Olive in their first road game of the year before rallying for a 2-1 victory.

Striking Early – North Georgia's best chance to score might be in the first 15 minutes, so they better come out firing early. Armstrong gave up early goals to Lander in the 15th minute, Catawba in the 2nd minute and Tusculum in the 5th. They did however rally to win all of these games. The Pirates also got an early goal last week on the road at Rollins, striking in the third minute but settled for a double overtime deadlock with the Tars.

Title Time – Bottom line is it doesn't get any better than this. The regular season conference championship on the line, while the games up to this point can be thrown out the window. This one is winner-take-all, and look for that winner to have a full force of momentum heading forward into the postseason.