The loss drops Gardner-Webb to 1-5 this season.
In its fifth road match out of its six completed contests this season, the Runnin' Bulldogs found themselves again fighting to overcome a first half deficit. GWU has surrendered a first half goal to its opponents in all but one of its five losses on the season.
The Catamounts jumped out to the 1-0 lead early. Markie Studnicky scored off of the opening kick of the match 17 seconds in, leaving the Runnin' Bulldogs behind early. A stunned GWU defense buckled down for the remainder of the half, limiting the Catamounts' efforts for easy looks offensively.
The defense gave the Gardner-Webb offense an opportunity to get back in the game, led by keeper Amy Schmitt's (Waxhaw, N.C.) six save effort for the match. One of the saves came 27 seconds into the match when Western Carolina's Samantha Hodge put a shot on frame which would have put the host team on top 2-0.
Gardner-Webb's offense could not get any momentum running in its favor during the first half, producing only one shot attempt during the opening 45 minutes of action. Despite its first half struggles, and being outshot 7-1 by the Catamounts in the opening period, the Runnin' Bulldogs found themselves down by just one goal entering the break.
Western Carolina would get its second goal of the match in the 49th minute when McKenzie Hallstrom scored on a shot taken outside the GWU box.
Stymied in the first half, the Runnin' Bulldogs offense fought to get those goals back. Freshman Brooke Kelly (Lawrenceville, Ga.) put a shot on frame in the 50th minute, looking to give GWU a response to WCU's second goal, but Catamount keeper Katie Jacobs secured one of her five saves to keep her the home team up 2-0.
Five saves the rest of the way from Schmitt kept the Runnin' Bulldogs within striking distance, including one in the 55th minute off a threatening McKenzie Hallstrom shot attempt.
Freshman Shelby Hooe (Mechanicsville, Va.) got into free space within the Western Carolina defensive zone, putting a shot on frame only to have it saved by Jacobs. Hooe led the Runnin' Bulldogs with three shot attempts Friday night, all on goal.
Freshman Nichole Poppe (Youngsville, N.C.) recorded a shot on goal in the 90th minute fighting to get the Runnin' Bulldogs on the board.
Schmitt (six saves) took the loss for GWU, moving her record to 1-5 on the season. Jacobs (five saves) improved to 4-3 this season.
Defensively, Gardner-Webb was led by sophomore Addison Abee (Charlotte, N.C.) and junior Ele Margelos (North Potomac, Md.), Abee played the full 90 minutes Friday night, and Margelos registered 86 minutes of playing time in the loss.
Gardner-Webb plays in its second match of the Western Carolina Invitational on Sunday, September 16 at 12:00 p.m. when it takes on Louisiana-Lafayette in the first ever meeting between the two programs. Fans can follow the action via live stats at www.catamountsports.com/gametracker.