Troy, Ala. - Junior goalkeeper Amy Schmitt made a career-high 15 stops for Gardner-Webb, keeping GWU close until a 77th minute goal from Troy's Necee Jennings put the match out of reach as the Trojans would go on to secure a 3-1 win over the Runnin' Bulldogs on Friday evening.
Jennings' goal came after Schmitt (Waxhaw, N.C.) saved fourteen straight shots on goal by the Trojans, who had earned a 1-0 lead on a Kirsten Rendall goal in the 18th minute of action. Troy's Jennings tacked on a second goal in the 82nd minute to put Troy (4-5) up 3-0 late in the match.
Gardner-Webb (2-5-1) got a goal back late in the second half, scoring in the 84th minute off freshman Brandi Arey's first career goal. The Huntersville, N.C. native received a well-struck corner kick from redshirt junior Meagan Reynolds (Kings Mountain, N.C.) and put the ball into the back of the net to shrink Troy's lead to 3-1 on GWU's only shot on goal in the match.
Both defenses avoided letdowns in the opening minutes of the match, as neither the Trojans nor the Runnin' Bulldogs put a shot on goal for the first 17 minutes of action. A 7th minute shot attempt by Braddick Price was blocked by the Troy defense, and the Runnin' Bulldogs earned a corner kick in the 10th minute as GWU tested the waters on Troy's half of the field early in the match.
Play shifted to Gardner-Webb's half of the field after an offsides call on Troy in the 11th minute showed the Trojans' attempts to push the ball forward. That effort resulted in shots taken by Abby Reynolds, Maddie Tieken, and Necee Jennings in the 15th and 16th minutes, but the bids were either wide of the goal or blocked by the Runnin' Bulldogs' backline.
Rendall's goal came in the 18th minute when GWU was unable to clear the ball outside the 18 yard box, as Troy's offensive firepower broke through to put GWU in a 1-0 hole midway through the first half.
After the first half Trojan goal, Schmitt settled in, keeping the Runnin' Bulldogs within a goal despite a sputtering offensive effort fueled by an effective Troy offense that kept the ball on GWU's side of the pitch. Troy looked to press its advantage and double its lead in the first half, but Schmitt registered saves in the 28th, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd minutes to keep Gardner-Webb within a goal of tying the score.
After a yellow card was called on Troy in the 37th minute, GWU looked to pressure Troy keeper Caitlin Buono in hopes of evening the score. Sophomore Shelby Hooe (Mechanicsville, Va.) found space within the Trojan backline to let loose a shot attempt, but a hustling Troy defense blocked the shot before it could test Buono, as Gardner-Webb would be unable to put a shot on frame in the first 45 minutes of action.
Shots by Troy's Louise Cheng (39th minute) and Samantha Morgan (41st minute) threatened the GWU goal late in the first half, but Schmitt stepped up to make both saves, giving her six total in the first half to keep the score at 1-0 entering the break.
Troy pushed the ball forward immediately in the second half in pursuit of their second goal of the match, but Schmitt denied a shot on frame from Jane Latif in the 46th minute, as well one by Jasmine Fahrbauer in the 56th minute. Hooe took a shot in the 47th minute looking to even the score for GWU, but it flew high of the crossbar.
Troy earned a corner kick in the 59th minute, and an incredible sequence by Schmitt denied back-to-back shots on goal from Abby Reynolds, Fahrnbauer, and Reynolds again, and GWU remained just one goal from tying the match.
Schmitt made her twelfth and thirteenth saves of the match in the 67th and 70th minutes, handling shots by Fahrnbauer on both occasions. After another save by Schmitt in the 73rd minute, Troy broke through in the 77th minute when Jennings took a through ball from Fahrnbauer and was able to put it past Schmitt in a one v. one situation to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.
Jennings would score again in the 82nd minute, and Arey put GWU on the board in the 84th minute, marking three total goals scored within a 7 minute span after nearly 60 minutes of scoreless play spanning both halves.
Arey's 84th minute goal off of Reynolds' third assist of the season gave GWU a goal in its only shot on goal during Friday's match. Hooe led the Runnin' Bulldogs with three shot attempts.
Troy was led offensively by Jennings (two goals, five shots), Fahrnbauer (four shots on goal, one assist), and Samantha Morgan (three shots on goal, one assist).
Schmitt (2-5-1) took the loss for the Runnin' Bulldogs despite the career best saves effort. Bouon faced five GWU shots in earning the win for the Trojans.
Gardner-Webb will turn its attention to Big South play on Wednesday, September 25, when the Runnin' Bulldogs host Winthrop both squads' Conference opener. Wednesday's match is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start time.