09/05/11 — Trojan women suffer hard-luck, season-opening loss

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Trojan women suffer hard-luck, season-opening loss

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 5, 2011 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A hard-luck loss kept a frustrating streak intact that the Mount Olive College women's soccer team hoped to snap Sunday afternoon.

Kelly Penston notched the game-winning goal in the 71st minute and lifted North Georgia to a 2-1 victory at Amon Field. The Trojans suffered their fifth consecutive season-opening defeat and third straight against a Peach Belt Conference team.

"I thought the girls worked hard," said MOC head coach Matt Hisler. "They had a good first half, did some good things. But we need to get a little bit better and that will come in time as we get an understanding of each other."

The Trojans (0-1-0 overall) grabbed the early lead 20 minutes into the opening half. Junior midfielder Mary Knepp served a floater into the 18 box toward sophomore Sarah Porter. A returning All-American, Porter dribbled past her defender, coaxed North Georgia keeper Kirsten Ross to cheat toward the near post and fired a perfect goal-scoring strike to the back post.

It was Porter's 21st goal of her career.

The Saints (2-0-0) misfired on several scoring opportunities in the opening half. MOC keeper Lyndsey McIntyre stopped three point-blank shots on her line to preserve the 1-0 advantage at halftime.

"We were frustrated, had a long bus ride and our legs weren't with us in the first half," said Penston of the seven-hour trip. "We got some shots off, just couldn't put them away."

North Georgia controlled a majority of possession in the second half. The Saints forced numerous turnovers in the midfield and intercepted passes to prevent the Trojans from generating a consistent attack.

An unfortunate call led to North Georgia's game-tying goal.

MOC was whistled for a handball in the box and Natalie Douglas converted the penalty kick to make it 1-1 in the 55th minute.

"It's one of those moments you wish you could rewind and let the girl play the ball again," said Hisler. "That, I think, is a freak reaction of the ball coming to a place that she didn't expect."

The Saints continued to apply pressure, dictated the tempo and kept the Trojans running between the 18s. Junior forward Kelsey Martin won a ball outside the box and dribbled toward the corner.

Martin flicked the ball into the 6-yard area and Penston connected past the outstretched gloves of McIntyre for the 2-1 lead.

"Kelsey crossed it, (I) trapped it and just shot it," grinned Penston. "I was just thankful I got a shot off so we could get ahead."

MOC threatened in the 85th minute with a shot that nearly slipped inside the near post. But junior defender Taylor Lee cleared the ball as Ross scrambled back to the line.

The Saints owned a 19-9 edge in shots. McIntyre finished with nine saves between the posts.

"They're a very good team and have been a top-10 team in the region for the last four years," said Hisler. "We got caught standing a little bit, they moved a little bit earlier, so they had more of the ball (in the second half). Overall, I thought we played really well and generated a good number of opportunities.

"I think the attitude with the team is very positive. We need to continue to get better, learn how to react to different parts of the game and we'll get there."