PEMBROKE – Both unbeaten UNCP soccer teams are set to battle Peach Belt Conference rival North Georgia on Saturday at the Soccer Complex in Dahlonega, Ga., before matching up with nonconference opponent Young Harris at Frances Wood Wilson Soccer Field in Young Harris, Ga., on Sunday.
The Lady Braves (4-0-1, 1-0 PBC) will finish out their seven game, season-opening road swing in the matchups after going unbeaten through the first five games. The Lady Braves concluded a historic week last week by defeating No. 14 Columbus State for the second time in school history on Friday, and by sweeping all three of the PBC weekly awards on Tuesday. Sophomore Andrea Collèn was named the Offensive Player of the Week, junior Fanny Forsman was named Defensive Player of the Week for the second-straight week and sophomore Brittany Bennett was named Goalkeeper of the Week for the fifth time in her career.
The strong showing by the squad enabled them to move up the national rankings from No. 23 to No. 15, and they also moved up a spot in the region rankings – from No. 3 to No. 2.
UNCP stayed unbeaten on the season after its 1-0 overtime victory over the Lady Cougars on Friday. UNCP also recorded its fourth shutout of the season on Sunday in the squad's 1-0 win over West Georgia. They started off their week with a 1-1 tie against intrastate rival Mount Olive to post a 2-0-1 record over the three-game span.
Bennett posted her 12th and 13th career shutouts during the week to move her goals against average down to 0.20 and her saves percentage up to .964. She leads the PBC in saves (27), goals against average, saves percentage and has allowed just one goal through five games and 454:37 minutes in goal. Collèn led the team with two goals on the week, including the equalizer in the 88th minute against Mount Olive and the golden goal in the 97th minute in the win over the Lady Cougars. She now leads the team with 10 points coming on four goals and two assists. Freshman Lindsey Hunt scored the only other goal for UNCP during the week (the first of her career), which was the game winner against West Georgia in the 67th minute. Fellow rookie Amalia Arvidsson leads the PBC with 30 shots, while Collèn currently sits second in the league with 10 points and tied for second in the league with four goals.
North Georgia is coming off one of the most dominant Peach Belt Conference wins in recent history with a 5-0 beat down of previously unbeaten USC Aiken. They are led by Emily Dover's eight points (three goals, two assists) and six points by Kelsey Martin (two goals, two assists) and Kelly Penston (three goals).
Kirsten Ross currently sports a 0.52 goals against average while recording 12 saves over 347 minutes in goal.
North Georgia and UNCP were picked to finish third and fourth, respectively, by the league's coaches prior to the start of the season. The Lady Saints are 2-0 at home this season, but UNCP holds a 5-1 advantage in the all-time series, including a 1-0 double-overtime win in Pembroke last season. The Lady Saints' only victory in the series came back in 2006 with a 3-2 victory in Dahlonega.
Young Harris enters Sunday's matchup with a 3-1-0 record on the season with wins coming over Clayton State (1-0), Brenau (3-1) and Mars Hill (1-0). The squad's only loss came at the hands of Lincoln Memorial (1-2) in the season opener.
Haley Holderfield and Mike Lopes lead the team with four points apiece coming on two goals from each player. Kelsey Cunningham has played every minute in goal for the Mountain Lions and has registered 24 saves in over 365 minutes in goal.
Sunday's meeting will be the first in the series between the two schools.
The Braves (5-0-0, 0-0 PBC) posted their fifth-straight win of the season with a 4-0 shutout over Brevard on Tuesday evening. The win made it the first time in seven years that UNCP has started its season with five consecutive wins.
Transfer Sam Miles notched the first goal of Tuesday's game and his sixth goal of the season in the 34th minute. Less than six minutes later, the Black and Gold took advantage of an open back field as Alex Antonescu scored from the right side to put UNCP ahead of Brevard 2-0 at the half.
Brett Luccia scored with 47:18 remaining in the second half to put UNCP up 3-0, and the final goal was Miles' second of the night, coming on a double assist by Adam Smith and Jeff MacDonald. Miles' two goals – his sixth and seventh – place him atop the Peach Belt Conference in goals scored and he also leads the league in points (16) and shots (21).
Sophomore Martin Tomter has five goals and three assists while Smith has three goals and three assists. Freshman Joe Cullip, this week's PBC Goalkeeper of the Week, has allowed only two goals in 326 minutes and leads the league in goals allowed (two) and goals against average (0.55) and has recorded eight saves this season.
North Georgia (2-2-1, 1-0 PBC) posted a rhythm last week in taking down Tampa, 2-1, on September 7, and USC Aiken, 2-1, on Saturday before being shut out by Lenoir-Rhyne, 1-0, on Wednesday. Max Angel hit a firecracker to the upper-90 from about 30 yards out to put the Saints past the Spartans in overtime, 2-1.
North Georgia then traveled to USC Aiken on Saturday for the team's conference opener. Jesy Phelps scored his first goal of the season in the 31st minute against the host Pacers, and after USC Aiken scored the equalizer, a USC Aiken own goal in the 87th minute gave North Georgia the win. North Georgia outshot Lenoir-Rhyne, 18-4, but couldn't get a ball in the back of the net in falling in non conference action.
Angel, Phelps, Manuel Hernandez and Gustavo Cunha have each collected one goal to total the four goals scored this season. Korey Daigle leads the team with two assists while Cunha holds a team-best 14 shots. Goalkeeper Rade Tanskovic holds a 2-2-1 record in goal and leads the conference with 20 saves and is second in the league with a .741 save percentage.
UNCP and North Georgia will meet for the 8th time on Saturday in a series that has been quite even among the two teams. The Black and Gold and the Saints hold a 2-2-3 series record going into Saturday's matchup. Last season, North Georgia outshot UNCP 28-10 and played with a man advantage for the final 50 minutes of the contest, but the Braves used an unbreakable defense to hold the Saints off the scoreboard en route to a 0-0 tie at Varsity Grounds.
Young Harris (4-0-0) sits undefeated by taking down Lincoln Memorial, Shorter, Lander and Mars Hill. The Mountain Lions made an impact in the first match of the season with a 6-1 win over Lincoln Memorial before recording a 3-2 victory against Shorter. Ashley Walker scored the golden goal in the 102nd minute as the Mountains Lions secured a 2-1 double-overtime victory over Lander on Saturday. Wednesday's matchup with Mars Hill was another close match as Andreas Pechmann's penalty kick was the difference in the 1-0 upset for Young Harris.
Freshman Ilijia Ilic leads the Mountain Lions with five goals and one assist for 11 points. Niall McCabe leads the team in shots while Pechmann, Khurram Shazad and Mouhamed Bechir have each registered two assists. Wezly Barnard has played in more than 369 minutes in goal while collecting 15 saves for a .789 save percentage and .97 goals against average.
UNCP and Young Harris will meet for the first time on Sunday in the series between the two schools.