Player's career day leads UNCG past Chattanooga in SoCon opener
For video of coach Steve Nugent's postgame comments, click here.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Redshirt senior Kristin Player turned in a seven-point night and had a hand in UNCG's first five goals as the Spartans remained perfect in Southern Conference openers with a 6-1 Homecoming win over Chattanooga at the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Saturday.
Player scored two goals and notched three assists, matching her career high in assists and setting a new personal standard for points in a game. She narrowly missed a hat trick, curling a shot just wide late in the game.
"Kristin Player was great," UNCG coach Steve Nugent said. "I thought all of our forwards tonight had great mobility and were running off the ball. We spent three days this week working on the final third. … We spent a lot of time on it this week and it's no doubt that it paid off tonight."
Sophomore Ashlee Wilhelmsen scored the first two goals of her career, adding an assist for a career-best five-point day.
UNCG (2-6-0, 1-0-0 SoCon), which improved to 15-0-0 in league openers since joining the SoCon in 1997, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Karin Sendel's second-minute strike. Player got the play started in the midfield, switching fields to find Lauren Lover on the right wing. Lover sent a cross in that Sendel nodded home at the 1:54 mark.
Chattanooga answered in the 16th minute, with Becca Smith chipping a pass over the UNCG defense to find Donna-Kay Henry in stride. Henry did the rest, shooting from the right side of the box and off of UNCG keeper Kelsey Kearney's fingertips to draw the Mocs (5-2-1, 0-1-0 SoCon) even.
Player scored what would prove to be the game-winner in the 25th minute, finding herself in the right place at the right time for her first goal of the season. After Kaytee O'Brien lofted a cross in from the left wing, the ball ricocheted off of Karina Rodriguez right to Player's feet about two yards in front of the goal. Player knocked it home to make it 2-1.
The Spartans closed the first half in style, with Wilhelmsen scoring her first collegiate goals just over three minutes apart. Nitang Jones and Player picked up assists on the first one, with Player sending a pass in from the right touchline that Wilhelmsen ran onto and pounded home in the 40th minute.
Player and Wilhelmsen connected again in the 43rd, with Player sending a thru ball to Wilhelmsen in the midfield and Wilhelmsen slotting a shot home lower right corner to stake UNCG to a 4-1 halftime lead.
The Spartans kept the pedal down in the second half, pushing their lead to 5-1 on Player's second goal in the 55th minute. Wilhelmsen assisted on the play, finding Player with a ball in the box that Player juggled to herself a couple of times and banged home.
Rodriguez capped the scoring in the 77th minute, notching her first career goal after Chattanooga keeper Taylor Mangrum couldn't wrap up a loose ball in the box. Rodriguez pounced on the ball and fired into the empty net to make it 6-1.
UNCG outshot the Mocs 27-9 on the evening, but Chattanooga did have a couple of solid scoring chances. Just 48 seconds into the contest, Smith fired a point-blank shot off the left post. Later in the first half, Smith took a free kick from a couple of feet outside the 18-yard box that sailed just high.
Kaitlyn Bennett also had a promising scoring chance, as her looping shot just cleared the crossbar.
Kearney earned the win in the net for UNCG, allowing one goal and making one save in 45 minutes of work. Alex Perry worked the final 45 in her first action of the season.
Mangrum allowed six goals and made six saves.
The Spartans return to action Monday at noon, when they will host Samford for a showdown between the top two teams in the preseason SoCon poll. UNCG and Samford played for the SoCon tournament title last year, with the Spartans topping the Bulldogs 1-0.
UNCG 6, Chattanooga 1
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Chattanooga......... 1 0 - 1
UNCG................ 4 2 - 6
1. 1:54 UNCG Karin Sendel (2) (Kristin Player;Lauren Lover)
2. 15:38 UTC Donna-Kay Henry (2) (Becca Smith)
3. 24:12 UNCG Kristin Player (1) (Kaytee O'Brien;Karina Rodriguez)
4. 39:12 UNCG Ashlee Wilhelmsen (1) (Nitang Jones;Kristin Player)
5. 42:17 UNCG Ashlee Wilhelmsen (2) (Kristin Player)
6. 54:11 UNCG Kristin Player (2) (Ashlee Wilhelmsen)
7. 76:17 UNCG Karina Rodriguez (1) (unassisted)
Shots: Chattanooga 9, UNCG 27; Saves: Chattanooga 6 (Taylor Mangrum 6), UNCG 1 (Kelsey Kearney 1); Corner kicks: Chattanooga 3, UNCG 3; Fouls: Chattanooga 10, UNCG 13
- UNCG -