On Aug. 17, 2018, UNCG’s women’s soccer team opened their regular season with a close 2-1 win over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs. The first half of the match came down to the nitty gritty as the half time score remained tied at 0-0. Lots of fouls were called on the Bulldogs. However, in the second half, all three goals of the match were scored in the matter of a 10-minute span.
In the 47th minute, goalkeeper Aiyanna Tyler-Cooper punted the ball down the field, where a Gardner-Webb defender headed it right to forward Isabelle Blomdahl. Blomdahl then scored from the middle of the box to notch the game’s first goal and the first of her collegiate career.
Just eight minutes later, Jada Newton of Gardner-Webb chipped in a goal for the Bulldogs to retie the game at 1-1. In the 57th minute, forward/midfielder Kaley Tucker intercepted an errant Bulldog pass, then took a long shot just outside of the box to score the game-winning goal for the Spartans. Tyler-Cooper recorded two saves for the Spartans that night.
In the first game of the season, it was an impressive win for the young Spartans, who entered the season with a slew of new faces on the team. Head Coach Michael Coll commented on the win, overcoming that inexperience of the team.
“It was a wonderful thing, especially since we had eight freshmen play tonight, four starters and four off the bench,” Coach Coll said. “We can build off of this for future times.”
The four freshmen who started for the Spartans were Kayla Campbell, Grace Timbario, Nicole Souply, and Isabelle Blomdahl. Rachel Rouse, Natalie Sabiston, Caroline Fiorella, and Jordan Mosley all made their collegiate debuts coming off the bench.
The Spartans maintained the possession of the ball for the majority of the game, having the advantage of 16-9 shots and 7-5 corner kicks over the bulldogs. This was key to the Spartans’ success, as Gardner-Webb could barely make it past midfield all night.
New to UNCG Soccer Stadium was the G-Force. The G-Force is the new student section that has been launched by UNCG Athletics. Most people are aware of the old athletic support group, the Blue Crew. However, the G-Force is trying to revamp that idea.
For the G-Force’s debut, they helped bring the game attendance to 888 spectators. The G-Force met in the Fleming Gymnasium just a few hours before the match to practice their chants, and to help support the Spartans.
“The G-Force was absolutely brilliant tonight. Such a wonderful addition to UNCG Athletics, they were so vocal and encouraging for us. Just awesome, and I can’t wait to have them back for our home games,” Coach Coll said.
The Marketing Department also held a hugely successful Bojangles tailgate an hour before the game, and the tailgate played a massive role in helping bring more spectators to the game. Fans were waiting in line for over an hour before the gate was open to the public at 6:00.
Roughly 200 people came early to grab a plate of fried chicken, mac and cheese and their famous biscuits, along with a glass of their legendary iced tea.
UNCG Women’s Soccer also hit the road to face Elon on Sunday evening. After a 50 minute weather delay, the Spartans tied with the Phoenix, 0-0. Next they’ll be playing before their home faithful on Friday against the Richmond Spiders.