UNCG women’s soccer team played in a tight contest against High Point this past Friday night, on a rain-glazed field. It was the first game of the 2016 season and the stands were filled with students excited about the upcoming semester and the new season.
Early on in the campaign, the head coach, Michael Coll, had his team focused on their own game.
“We didn’t really do a whole lot of preparation; we just focused on our own skills, and our own units, and our own tactics,” Coll said, “so we didn’t really focus much on the opponent.”
That focus led to a lot of smooth-moving offense from the Spartans, as they managed to advance the ball down the field regularly throughout the game. Forward Diarra Simmons and midfielder Georgia Brown were each able to get two shots on goal but both were blocked. Sophomore forward and High Point native Caylin Prillaman also recorded a shot on goal that was blocked as well.
“We played good soccer for the most part,” Coll said. “We were very dangerous on set plays…so I thought we could have scored. There were no negatives, really.”
On the other end, High Point was also able to advance the ball against the Spartans defense, opening up numerous opportunities that could have decided the outcome of the match. However, it was Junior Goalkeeper Chloe Buehler who came through. She aggressively hounded oncoming scoring threats and was able to defend seven shots throughout the night.
“That was vital. Our goalkeepers have to have two or three saves a game to keep her team in it. Chloe’s a good goalkeeper, and she’s older and more experienced now so it instills loads of confidence in the defenders around her.”
That goalkeeping play proved to be incredibly important as UNCG failed to score—despite two consecutive shots off the goal post—and ended up in a double overtime match to start out the season.
Both High Point and UNCG were able to break free of the defense for a few golden chances at goals, but it wasn’t meant to be. It ended in a 0-0 draw, a product of several near misses and possibly the slippery conditions.
While the match came to a close without an actual win, it was an impressive performance from the Spartans, who were put in some difficult situations from the beginning, but showed great focus and displayed their versatility.
“We started a lot of young players and they stepped right in and did fantastic from the start. Players were asked to play in different spots than what were their best spots, and they stepped up with a smile and did it.”
It’s not worth as many points as the win they were hoping for, but it was still a nice start for the women’s team, who have demanding expectations this year. They finished second place in the conference last year, and are already third in the pre-season rankings.
Living up to the achievements and hype preceding them may be a difficult job, but it’s a task that the team is already looking forward to.
“We want those expectations, we are very hungry for those rankings…and we love the fact that we’re looked at with a lot of respect both in the conference and outside the conference,” Coach Coll said.
The next week for the Spartans will see them travel to Elon,NC on Friday night to face off against the Phoenix’s of Elon, before returning back home two days later to host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
“There are no easy games in at the Division 1 level,” Coll said. “We just played an overtime game against a very tough High Point team who will win a lot of games this season, so getting our tired bodies to turn right around on Sunday will be the main challenge.”