Georgia Gwinnett College's Jocelyn Baker works in the open field during Sunday's season-opening victory over SCAD. (Photo: Bernie Connelly)
LAWRENCEVILLE - You could consider Sunday's 2-1 win an upset for Georgia Gwinnett College's women's soccer team. After all, Savannah College of Art and Design came into the year having received votes in the preseason NAIA top 25 poll.
However, first-half goals by Jocelyn Baker and Amanda Dale powered the Grizzlies to the win to open the season.
"It's a great win for us," said head coach Domenic Martelli. "Our defense played well, helping limit some of their chances."
The Grizzlies pushed the pace early, pressuring the Bees' defense into mistakes. Bethany Johnson got the first shot opportunity on a 2-on-1, but hit the left post.
Later, Mill Creek graduate Jessica Beasley had an opportunity from 27-yards out, but SCAD goalkeeper Ciara Thomas made a diving save. Grayson graduate Mary Vernetti had a shot as well, but it was right at Thomas who made the save.
The Grizzlies did finally get on the board with 18:20 to go in the first half.
Johnson flicked it over a defender to Baker, who put it into the back of the net for the first goal.
"Jocelyn got a great second chance on the ball from Bethany," Martelli said. "It snaked through the defense and she put it home."
GGC went up 2-0 when Dale took an assist from Natalie Leone, as the SCAD defense was playing out of position.
"Amanda put the ball where it had to go," Martelli said. "If she shot it anywhere else, it wouldn't have gone in."
Through most of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half, SCAD had multiple opportunities to score in front of the net. However, they failed to get shots off as the GGC defense stifled every opportunity.
However, the Bees started pressuring the ball themselves and got good results.
Meadhbh Deenney sent a cross where a leaping save was made by Alex Hays.
However, Deeney got a second opportunity seconds later on an assist by Alexandra Weinberg to make the score 2-1.
SCAD continued to put pressure on the Grizzlies' defense, almost tying the game when Olivia Buechler hit the cross-bar. However, the ball was cleared soon after and the GGC defense cleared the ball.
The Bees tried to make more runs with time running out, but GGC continued to get the ball into the corner in the offensive zone, forcing SCAD to have to go the length of the field multiple time only to fail.
"The wind influenced the game more than people think," Martelli said. "We were able to do a lot in the first half and really could have had a third or fourth goal. The same for them in the second half. They could have had another goal or two. You'll take wins any way you can get them."