BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The North Georgia College & State University women's soccer team utilized a three-goal first half, and netted a pair of scores in the final 45 minutes en route to a 5-2 win over Lees-McRae College in the season-opener Thursday at Tate Field. North Georgia improves to 1-0 on the season while Lees-McRae drops to 0-1.
The two sides battled to control the run of play for much of the match, with the Saints ending the contest with a narrow 17-15 margin in shots. Emily Bowen (Brentwood, Tenn.) paced the Saints with a goal and an assist, including the match-winner midway through the second half. Kelsey Martin (Dallas, Ga.), Samantha Abrahart (Duluth, Ga.), Caroline Wallace (Watkinsville, Ga.), Emily Dover (Canton, Ga.) each netted a goal in contribution, while Melanie Thompson (Snellville, Ga.) and Whitley Dover (Canton, Ga.) each chipped in an assist.
Katy McGee (Hudson, Fla.) and Jessica O'Leary (Millbury, Mass.) each tallied a goal for the Lady Bobcats, while Kaitlyn Kerrigan (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) and Brooke Santerre (Port Republic, Md.) each notched an assist.
North Georgia opened the scoring midway through the 27th minute when Wallace took possession of a loose ball on the wing, and after beating a defender, laced a driven strike off the LMC keeper to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. Abrahart doubled the North Georgia advantage four minutes later, taking a cross from Emily Dover and placing it inside the far post midway through the 32nd minute.
Lees-McRae cut the lead in half later in the 38th minute when Kerrigan swung a corner into the area, setting up a well-placed header by McGee past the North Georgia keeper to pull the Lady Bobcats within a goal at 2-1. North Georgia widened the margin to 3-1 late early in the 42nd minute, when Thompson found a streaking Bowen with a long lead pass to set up the finish inside the near post.
Emily Dover pushed the margin to 4-1 midway through the 63rd minute, taking a long lead pass that deflected off the keeper and slotting the finish into the open net. Martin would add a late goal for the Saints in the 90th minute, delivering a strike off a well-placed through ball from Whitley Dover.
O'Leary provided the final entry into the scorebook with 20 seconds remaining in the match. The junior forward took a pass from Santerre and delivered a wonderful strike off the far post to cut the margin to 5-2 for her first goal of the season.
The Lady Bobcats return to the pitch on Saturday when they travel to Milligan College, Tenn. for a 7 p.m. matchup with Milligan College.
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