Clayton State Ties No. 13 North Georgia 1-1

Down by a goal and then down by a player in the second half, Clayton State (5-4-3, 2-4-1 PBC) earned a hard-fought and improbable 1-1 tie with No. 13 North Georgia (9-2-1, 5-1-1 PBC) in an NCAA Division II women’s soccer game on Monday, October 15.

The Nighthawks would strike first but it would take until the 12th minute when a handball in the box led to a penalty kick. Lining up to take that high percentage opportunity was one of the most dangerous scorers in the Peach Belt Conference, Renee Vanhorn. She would take advantage as she put the ball to the left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead at the 11:47 mark.

That margin would hold to the half despite UNG powering eight total shots, seven of them landing on frame. For the Lakers, junior defender Manoly Baquerizo (Guayaquil, Ecuador) had every single attempt, coming away with five total and a pair of those on net.

With 10 minutes gone by in the second half, Clayton State would find themselves having to play with 10 players after Jane McKevitt (Thurles, Ireland) was sent off with a second yellow card. However, rather than crumble when faced with adversity the Lakers flourished, rallying just minutes later despite that circumstance.

In the 56th minute freshman forward Isabel Massa (Caracas, Venezuela) would race down the left sideline and deep into UNG territory. On the right side sophomore midfielder Ann-Cathrin Zabel (Schwarme, Germany) would take the ball to the corner and cross it to the right corner of the net. Massa then put foot to it and powered it low and hard into the back left corner for the equalizer at 55:28.

That score would then persist the rest of regulation despite the pace ramping up in the final minutes before the teams headed to overtime deadlocked at 1-1. Through the first 90 minutes the Nighthawks had fired off 17 shots to the Lakers’ 10. That would change dramatically in the extra sessions.

North Georgia would manage only a pair of shots over the next 10 minutes, as would Clayton State. Dani Shartouny put one wide right 39 seconds in before freshman midfielder Moa Loftman (Karlstad, Sweden) put one net and forced a save at 93:15.

Loftman would repeat that less than two minutes later up but it would be Shartouny that would have the best opportunity. With 33 seconds left she fired a hard and low shot from just off the left corner of the net only to have graduate defender Hikari Taguchi (Saitama, Japan) step in front and knock it away to preserve the tie.

Both teams came out determined at the start of the second OT but the frame would see just one shot between the two, that being one by Vanhorn that Richards corralled at the 104:27 mark. While there would be only one shot that didn’t mean the opportunities weren’t coming.

UNG couldn’t capitalize on back-to-back corners in the 106th minute but was able to turn away the one corner for the Lakers with 1:15 left. Following that attempt, neither club would come near the net as time ran out on a 1-1 tie.

Richards was lights out in goal as she went the distance, making a career-high 12 saves while allowing just one goal to the No. 13 team in the country. Clayton State moves to 5-4-3 overall on the season. The defense and the combination of Massa and Zabel, who produced the lone goal and assist, respectively, on the night, made sure her stellar performance would not go for naught.

The Lakers return to action on Wednesday, October 17 when they travel to Georgia College. Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Milledgeville, Georgia.

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