Lady Braves Battle Back To Down Belmont Abbey
PEMBROKE – Belmont Abbey set the tone early with a 33rd minute goal by Cassidy Coutinho, but UNCP responded with four unanswered goals to turn back the visiting Crusaders, 4-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Varsity Grounds.
The victory kept the Lady Braves (2-0-0) undefeated in three series meetings with the Crusaders (0-3-0), while Belmont Abbey remained winless on the young season. The triumph also marked the 124th win in the history of the women's soccer program in Pembroke under head coach Lars Andersson.
Despite mustering just four of the game's first 13 shots, it was Belmont Abbey that struck first as Melissa Pereira's direct kick from 35 yards out was redirected to the near post to give the visitors an early 1-0 advantage in the 33rd minute (32:17). UNCP responded quickly, however, as Ashley Anctil made the best of an offensive surge by the hosts by finding Julie Nytorp in space at the top of the box. The Swede responded swiftly by catapulting a shot over BAC goalkeeper Hannah Kohls and into the back of the net for the Equalizer.
The Black & Gold came out firing in the second half and needed just more than five minutes to take the lead for good when a Nytorp pass found fellow countrywoman Amalia Arvidsson in the box and Arvidsson rifled a shot to the near post for the 2-1 advantage.
The Lady Braves padded their lead out to a pair of goals on Andrea Collen's 65th minute (64:26) goal, and then added an insurance score in the 79th minute (78:05) on a heads-up play by Alisia Gustafson.
Nytorp tallied a game-best nine shots, including four on goal, while three other Lady Braves managed at least three strikes. Coutinho turned in a team-best five shots for the Crusaders. Kohls registered 10 saves between the pipes for the visitors, while all-region netminder Britney Bennett made six saves for UNCP.
"We were down a goal, came back and scored a goal within five minutes of giving up a bit of a sloppy goal because we became a little sloppy defensively," said Andersson. "We came back and played a much better second half and put three in the back of the net to walk away with the win. It is always nice to keep your cool when down a goal and come back to win."
UNCP will be back in action again on Friday when the Lady Braves lift the lid on Peach Belt Conference play at Georgia Southwestern (1-1-0). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the GSW Soccer Field in Americus, Ga.