Season opener versus nationally ranked #4 team – a tough ask for any team, but the Lady Bulldogs stepped up and took Cumberland University head on in what turned out to be a very exciting match last night in Athens, TN. Despite the 2-1 loss, the Tennessee Wesleyan Women's Soccer team showed strong play during many periods of the game in the opener against the NAIA's 4th ranked Cumberland University.
The Lady Bulldogs started slow out of the gate, allowing the first CU goal just one minute into the game off of an attacking run down out wide. CU had momentum and desire and the next ten minutes they continued to threaten TWC's goal as TWC tried to organize themselves defensively. A CU breakaway in the top half forced TWC goalkeeper, sophomore Taylor Young, to come out of her box to make the save, in doing so she brought down the attacking player as well, earning a yellow card for her tackle. In the 13th minute CU were able to score their second goal through the middle of the field beating the TWC defense to slot the ball past Taylor Young in goal.
The remainder of the first half presented opportunities for both teams, despite CU maintaining the majority of possession and chances on goal, TWC still looked dangerous in moments going forward with balls in behind the defense. CU outshot TWC 14-7 in the first half with Taylor Young making 7 saves, and the CU keeper making 3 saves to keep the clean sheet going into the half time break.
The second half proved a different story, Tennessee Wesleyan came out of the gate all pistons firing. The defense looked fresh and organized, and the offense looked quick and dangerous. It didn't take long for TWC to knock one in and in the 59th minute senior midfielder Alexis Dalberth dribbled by a CU defender inside the box and slotted a ball into freshman midfielder Emiley Saddler in front of goal. Saddler took a couple of touches and a perfect shot into the corner to bring the score to 2-1. With 30 or so minutes left on the clock TWC continued to threaten CU's goal, CU battled right back and had just as many chances at TWC's goal but never really looked as dangerous as they had in the first half. TWC on the other hand looked dangerous the remainder of the game but could not convert on their opportunities, a couple CU goalkeeper mistakes drew near misses from TWC players but nothing found the back of the net the remainder of the game. TWC ended the half with 7 shot to CU's 9. Taylor Young spent the entire 90 minutes in goal for the Lady Bulldogs, earning a total of 11 saves.
The next game for the team is against NCAA D3 Maryville College, picked to finish 1st in their athletic conference this season it will prove a tough match up. Game time is set for 2pm at TWC on Tuesday September 1st.