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Over 100 minutes of missed opportunities, spills, bumps, bruises, scratches, ruffled feelings and ample perspiration finally produced a women’s soccer outcome on a sweltering Saturday afternoon on the Barton College Athletic Complex pitch.
In the 103rd minute — or second 10-minute overtime — senior Jordyn Brown and freshman Brenna Keegan combined for the golden goal to lift Barton College to a 2-1 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas nail-biter against North Greenville (South Carolina) University.
With the intensely contested victory in their conference opener, the Lady Bulldogs climbed to 4-1 overall — their best start since 2015. North Greenville, the team that twice defeated Barton last season and ended the Lady Bulldogs year, its first league loss against three wins. The Crusaders departed 4-3 overall.
“The matter of them having our number last year was motivation for us today,” fourth-year Barton head coach Thomas Goines assured. “It was going to be a challenge, and the final result was big.”
Barton played for the first time in over a week because of the threat and effects of Hurricane Florence.
“Kind of what I expected,” Goines said. “The first 20-30 minutes were not as clean as we wanted. We took sort of a defensive approach. But we grew into the game and, once we felt like we had control of the game, we opened up a little more.”
In the first overtime, Barton senior Laisy Scardazzi and Crusaders freshman Megan Biehl exchanged shots.
But in the third minute of the second overtime, the Lady Bulldogs quickly countered after a North Greenville foul. Brown crossed the ball into the middle of the field, and Keegan was on the spot to fire a shot to the right of helpless Crusaders goalkeeper Brianna Rowe.
“We stopped an opportunity and took what we wanted to claim as ours,” Keegan, who netted her third 2018 goal, contended..
Keegan described that she accepted the cross from Brown some six feet from the goal.
“We started off a little rusty,” Keegan added. “But we had the intensity at the end of the game that we needed to win — and didn’t let up.”
Both teams wound up with 16 shots and goalkeepers Megan Bolick, a junior, of Barton and Rowe each registered five saves.
Bolick got timely defensive help from junior Rebekah Beal, sophomore Hannah Beard and junior Geziel Wilson in the scoreless first half. Beal generated Barton’s first threat and, later, junior Kate Christiansen, who brought spark off the bench, worked an opportunity with sophomore Syanni Harris.
Freshman Sarah Hazelwood, sophomore Abby Robinson and senior Jaimie Shutt anchored the North Greenville defense.
The Crusaders unleased a barrage of shots early in the second half — when junior Ariana Perry fired wide a wide-open shot.
Finally, with just under 14 minutes left during the regulation 90 minutes, Barton junior Amanda Barata flicked the ball to the left side. Beal leaped and, in mid-air, one-touched an accurate shot for her first 2018 goal.
Nearly six minutes later, the Crusaders answered with an own goal off junior Karly Denaburg’s corner kick.
Barton flirted with settling the outcome in regulation, but North Greenville’s Hazelwood knifed in to blast away a shot after Lady Bulldogs’ freshman Courtney Smith had worked past the keeper.
The Crusaders’ Rowe repelled attempts by Barton’s Emma Mitchell, a junior and Brown in the closing seconds.
“It was really important to win our first conference game and start off strong,” Keegan declared. “It’s a really big momentum thing for the rest of the year.”
Goines remarked that he considers his fourth Lady Bulldogs edition special and aspirations are lofty.
“Today was a heckuva first step,” he concluded.