October 30, 2013

PREVIEW: Soccer Teams Slated To Host Lander In Peach Belt Doubleheader

DAHLONEGA, Georgia – (UNGAthletics.com) – The University of North Georgia men's and women's soccer teams are set to return to the UNG Soccer Complex with a doubleheader of Peach Belt Conference games slated with visiting Lander University.  The evening will be the final home regular season contest of the 2013 season with both contest having pivotal Peach Belt Conference standing implications.

Coverage of the Peach Belt doubleheader will be on the UNG Sports Network and will include a live statistics and live video interface.  The women's game is slated for a 5:00 start with the men scheduled to kick off at 7:30.

Women's Game Notes: Lander (11-3, 7-2 PBC) vs. North Georgia (11-3-1, 6-2-1 PBC)

LAST TIME OUT: A pair of first half goals propelled the University of North Georgia to a 2-0 Peach Belt Conference victory over visiting Flagler College on Saturday at the UNG Soccer Complex.  Megan Morrow and Caroline Wallace each found the back of the net to help the surging Nighthawks to their second conference victory of the week. Morrow's game-winning tally came just 4:24 into the game when the junior would bend a long shot from just outside the 18-yard box over FC keeper Casey Merson.  The goal was the defender's second of the season. Wallace would tack on some insurance for UNG in the 27th minute when she would head home a Sydney Reeder free kick following a Saints foul just outside the box.  The score marked Wallace's sixth tally of the season. Mallory Sayre and Rachel Allred would split time in goal for North Georgia and combine for the team's sixth save of the season as each keeper would collect a single save on the day.

SCOUTING THE BEARCATS: After starting the season with nine consecutive victories the Bearcats are 2-3 in their last five matches capped with a 1-0 home loss to Columbus State on Wednesday.  Kimberly Kesler leads the team with 8 goals scored while Taylor Piorkowski and Casey Black have each found the back of the net six times.  In goal, Katie Lyle's 0.67 goals allowed average leads the PBC and anchors a stingy defense that has allowed only nine goals on the season.  

MORROW HONORED BY PBC:  UNG women's soccer player Megan Morrow has been honored by the Peach Belt Conference as its AstroTurf Women's Soccer Defender of the Week as announced on Monday by the league office.  She led the Nighthawk defense to a shutout of Flagler and a win over Columbus State last week. The junior opened up the week by anchoring the Nighthawks' defense in a 3-2 road win over CSU, holding the third-highest scoring offense in the PBC nearly a half goal under its season average.  UNG followed that up with a 2-0 shutout win against Flagler, their seventh shutout of the season.  Morrow provided the opening and ultimately game-winning goal in that contest less than five minutes after the opening kick and helped hold Flagler to just four shots in the game, two on goal. North Georgia is currently third in the PBC with a 0.98 team goals against average.

THE SERIES:  The North Georgia and Lander series is an even wash with the two teams splitting the career series with four wins apiece in the eight previous matches.  In those eight matches, each team has scored 15 goals.  UNG defeated #22 Lander 3-0 last season in Greenwood, S.C.

CONFERENCE STANDINGS: Tonight's match carries heavy Peach Belt Conference standing implications as both UNG and Lander are battling for pivotal seeding positions heading into next week's PBC Championship.  The top eight seeds earn a berth into the tournament with the highest four seeds hosting first round quarterfinal matches next Tuesday evening.  Pending the results of the final two regular season matches, UNG can finish as high as second and as low as fifth. 

UNG JUMPS BACK INTO TOP TEN:
The University of North Georgia women's soccer team leaped back into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire NCAA Division II poll as the Nighthawks landed in the 10th spot in the most recent poll as announced Tuesday afternoon.  North Georgia jumped all the way to the 10th spot after being unranked in the seventh ranking of the season just a week ago. UNG's week included a 3-2 road win at Columbus State University on Wednesday and was capped with a 2-0 home win over Flagler College on Saturday.  The Nighthawks (11-3-1, 6-2-1 PBC) were ranked as high as sixth nationally earlier in the season.  Armstrong Atlantic State University joins UNG in representing the Peach Belt Conference as the Pirates landed at #17 after also being unranked. Grand Valley State holds down the top spot by virtue of their 14-0-1 overall record.

Men's Game Notes: Lander (8-4-1, 4-3 PBC) vs. North Georgia (3-11-2, 1-4-2 PBC)

LAST TIME OUT: The UNG men's soccer team recorded its second straight Peach Belt Conference draw as the Nighthawks posted a hard-fought 1-1 tie with #22 Flagler College. James Dobbin used a well-placed through ball from teammate Andrew Leuer to beat FC keeper Camp Bissell in the lower left corner and register the Nighthawk's score at the 26:59 mark of the first half.   The goal and assist were the duo's first of the season. Flagler's equalizer would come with just over 15 minutes remaining in regulation as Zach Shanahan would put a penalty kick past UNG goalie Kristopher Alonzo following a Nighthawk foul just inside the box.

SCOUTING THE BEARCATS: Lander enters tonight's match riding a three-match losing streak after being ranked as high as #3 nationally in the fourth week of the season.  Prior to the current three-match stretch in which the Bearcats have been outscored 8-3, Lander had outscored the opposition 36-7 on the season.  Clement Dauchy is the Peach Belt's third leading goal scorer and leads the team will 11 goals on the season while Kevin Durand and Chris Hobbs have each recorded 8 tallies apiece.  In goal Barrett Nelson has posted five shutouts and carries a stingy 1.06 goals allowed average which ranks third in the PBC. 

ALONZO HONORED BY PEACH BELT: University of North Georgia men's soccer player Kristopher Alonzo has been honored by the Peach Belt Conference as its AstroTurf Men's Soccer Goalkeeper of the Week as announced on Monday by the league office. Alonzo came up huge in between the pipes as North Georgia fought #22 Flagler to a 1-1 tie.  The senior made a season-high nine saves, giving up the lone goal on a late-game penalty kick.  Flagler entered the game as the fourth-highest scoring offense in the PBC and was held to one goal or less for only the fourth time this season.  In addition to the nine saves, Alonzo controlled the box as Flagler outshot the Nighthawks 27-11 in the match.  Alonzo has started 15 matches for the Nighthawks and is third in the PBC in minutes played.

NIGHTHAWKS SURGING: North Georgia enters tonight's Peach Belt match on the heels of consecutive league draws against UNC Pembroke and Flagler.  The Nighthawks are 2-1-2 in their last five contests and have outscored the opposition 7-6 in that five-match span. Sophomore Daniel Bowlt has recorded four goals including a pair of game-winners in the stretch. 

THE SERIES:  North Georgia and Lander have squared off on the pitch nine times since 2005 with LU holding a 3-6 series advantage.  The host Bearcats earned a hard-fought 1-0 decision over the Nighthawks last season in Greenwood, S.C. 

PBC TOURNAMENT AROUND THE CORNER: Following tonight's contest, North Georgia will cap the 2013 regular season with a road trip to USC Aiken on Saturday.  The Nighthawks currently sit in the league's eighth spot as the top eight teams earn a berth into next week's Peach Belt Conference Championship tournament.  The top four seeded will host seeds five through eight in first round quarterfinal matches scheduled for on-campus sites on Tuesday, November 5.  UNG can secure the eighth seed by either a win or draw (single point) in their final two matches or loss or tie by USC Aiken in the Pacers' match tonight at UNC Pembroke.