The UNC-Greensboro Women’s soccer team had a rocky start to begin their season over the weekend. The Spartans fell to Loyola-Chicago on Friday night with a 3-2 double-overtime loss against the Ramblers at the UNCG Soccer Stadium. The game was led into double overtime as the Spartans battled to maintain a 2-2 tie in front of a heavy Blue and Gold crowd which featured 880 fans in attendance.
Off the bat, the Lady Spartans wasted no time in showing off their aggressive offense, especially junior forward, Diarra Simmons. Simmons played a large role in providing an intense atmosphere for not only going after opposing Ramblers with the ball, but also attacking the goal early in the contest with five shot attempts. However, a lack of execution between shots for all the Spartans, with 18 shot attempts only yielding two points, was a crucial factor in the downfall of their momentum.
The Spartans had the first chance of the game to break the scoreless session in the 12th minute after a pair of corner kicks. Senior forward, Ashley Eddleman sent a shot past Loyola-Chicago goalkeeper Cassidy Lentz, but a Rambler defender was on the goal line to fight the shot off as she kicked it out of the box. Junior defender, Diarra Simmons, would then have a crack at a shot from about 15-yards out from the rebound, but Loyola-Chicago goalkeeper Cassidy Lentz was able to reset and deflected the shot to keep the game scoreless.
The Spartans defense, led by redshirt sophomore goalie, Chloe Buehler who finished with four saves, was able to hold off Loyola-Chicago’s persistent offense, until the closing 17 seconds of the first half.
With time winding down before the halftime break, Loyola-Chicago freshman, Claire Oberle, took off on a long run down the middle of the field, avoiding Spartan defenders as she dribbled closer to the net. As Oberle approached the box, she released an unassisted shot that barely snuck inside the top corner at the net to send the Ramblers racing into halftime with a 1-0 advantage.
After halftime, a sense of urgency began to arise for the Blue and Gold as seniors Candace Forbes and Zoe Fishman returned to the field. The momentum progressed as both seniors provided goals for the Spartans, leading UNCG back into a tie following separate goals from Loyola-Chicago. Forbes sent a long cross into the box where it found Zoe Fishman on the back post who shot it past Lentz to tie the game at 1-1.
Loyola-Chicago would then reclaim the lead in the 72rd minute for a 2-1 advantage off a goal from another freshman. Jenna Szczesny, who would receive an assist from Avalon Senn-Raemont from 18 yards out to break the 1-1 tie.
In an effort to tie the game, Forbes would again be involved in another scoring play for UNCG. Passing for the assist previously, Forbes avoided Rambler defenders on an unassisted goal from 18 yards out and hit the back of the Loyola-Chicago net. The execution of the shot in the 83rd minute would tie the game at 2-2 and would be the last scoring play before overtime.
Through a tough ten-minute overtime period, spirits were still high as a Spartan victory seemingly approached in the second overtime. However, Loyola-Chicago were able to send the Blue and Gold faithful home disappointed with a game-winning goal in the 105th minute of double overtime. Shelby Koch made a run down the right-hand side and sent a cross into the box allowing Freshman Claire Oberle to score her second of two goals with only five minutes remaining to seal a 3-2 win.
Although the loss is disappointing, UNCG showcased a promising defense. Junior defender, Georgia Brown, continued to motivate her teammates with an aggressive stance on protecting the goal.
Head coach, Michael Coll commented on UNCG’s offense, stating that in order for his team to execute shots, they must, “continue to dribble and create space” for open shots. The Spartans will look to get into the wins column as they hit the road this week to take on Kentucky on Friday and East Kentucky on Sunday. The Kentucky Wildcats, a Sweet 16 team in last year’s national tournament, will be a difficult challenge for the Spartans as they seek to bounce back from their first defeat on the season.