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Lady Braves blank the competition 

By Ryan Kelly
Staff Writer            

The Braves defeated the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears 3-0 Saturday night at the Irwin Belk Complex.                               

Earlier in the week on  Aug. 24, the women's soccer team won their third straight season opener, downing the Chowan Hawks by a similar score of 3-0.

UNCP vs. Lenoir-Rhyne            

Senior goalkeeper Hillary Helms recorded seven saves to complete her first shutout of the season.

Forwards Melanie Cobb and Kim Oijerstedt both scored for the second consecutive game. Cobb also registered an assist for the second straight game.            

Defender Lauren Townsend and midfielder Nisa Akins had an assist each.

The Lady Braves’ Allie Black(left) takes charge as the Braves start the 2006 season off to a 2-0 winning streak.Photo by Derrick Tucker
The Lady Braves’ Allie Black(left) takes charge as the Braves start the 2006 season off to a 2-0 winning streak.
“Obviously, this is a huge win for us,” said head coach Lars Andersson.  “Lenoir Rhyne is a quality team and they really took it to us last year at their place.  I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little revenge factor involved in tonight’s game."            

The athletic Cobb scored in the 17th  minute when she settled a cross from Townsend and half-volleyed a shot from 10 yards out that hit the top cross-bar and bounced down inside for a goal.

Cobb contributed on the next goal 15 minutes later with a deep throw-in to the middle of the box that was settled by Akins and finished cleanly by Oijerstedt into the left side of the net.            

Senior Brenna Russick scored her first career goal in the 79th minute when she unleashed a perfectly-placed strike from 35 yards out just over the keeper's outstretched hands and into the top-left corner of the net.

"I just tried to get it on goal," said Russick.  "Once I hit it, I knew it was going in."     

Shutout Streak         

Russick also captained the team to its second-straight shutout.

 "(Earning a shutout) just takes a lot of heart, not giving up when you're tired and playing hard until the end of the game," Russick said.       

In the home opener against the Hawks, Oijerstedt tallied two goals to go along with Cobb's score and assist.

Midfielder Sarah Day recorded two assists and Defender Allie Black added another assist.          

The Lady Braves’ were also fairly efficient on their offensive chances with three scores off just six shots on goal.

Home Opener vs. Hawks

The Braves kicked the season off right, scoring in only the game's first 36 seconds.  Black and Cobb combined passes to find Oijerstedt who calmly finished to the far post.            

Day found Cobb in the 8th minute when she lofted a ball over the top of the Hawks' backline.  Cobb used her speed to dribble in on the keeper and put the Braves up 2-0.

Oijerstedt got her second goal in the 55th minute when she got on the end of a Day cross that rebounded off a defender just inside the six-yard box.            

"It's always important to get off to a good start and it feels good to get the W, but there were some things we struggled with," Andersson said.  "I relate it to being a boxer who needs that one last punch to get the knockout.  We had numerous chances but we have to do a better job of converting those chances into goals.  We could have easily scored seven or eight."

Keys to the Season

Forward Cobb had a little trouble finding net despite having seven shots and a few breakaway runs.            

"Melanie is aware of the fact that once we get into the conference games she needs to convert those."

Starting goalkeeper Helms held a first-half shutout before she was rotated out with Whitney Beverly and then Kristen Parker.

Both of the second-half goalies made key saves to hold the Hawks scoreless.

 "Our goalkeeping situation is also something we can be excited about. All three keepers saw time and they were able to post the shutout," Andersson said.            

The overall defense also held up by allowing just four shots on goal the entire game.
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Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006
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