BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb women's soccer will open its 2016 regular season Friday night, hosting Sun Belt Conference member Troy at 7:00 in Greene-Harbison Stadium.
The Runnin' Bulldogs played well in their lone exhibition, coming on strong in the second half to take a 2-1 win over ETSU last Saturday night on the home pitch.
Ibarra scored the winner in the 90th minute, hammering a 28-yarder off the foot of classmate Brandi Arey with only 55 seconds left on the clock. The Puyallup, Wash., midfielder put three of her match-high five shots on goal Saturday night.
Kleppe delivered the equalizer in the 81st minute, ripping a shot into the back of the net from 32 yards away.
Troy dropped a 2-1 decision to Alabama in its lone exhibition earlier this month, but is a strong side – coming off an impressive 14-4-2 season in 2015. The Trojans are projected to finish second in the Sun Belt, led by a strong core of returning starters that includes career 15-goal scorer Abby Reynolds and standout keeper Mikki Lewis (20 career shutouts).
Troy took a 2-0 win over Gardner-Webb in last season's opener (August 21) in Alabama. The aforementioned Reynolds scored twice in that meeting – a header in the 38th minute and a rebound shot in the 72nd minute.
Gardner-Webb does hold an edge over the Trojans in the all-time series, having won four of the previous seven meetings. Troy won the last match in Boiling Springs, taking a 1-0 decision on September 5, 2014.
GWU last topped Troy on September 30, 2004 in Boiling Springs – taking a 4-2 win on the strength of two goals by Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Leeanna Woodworth.
Friday's match is the second half of a doubleheader, as the GWU men face Lees-McRae in an exhibition at 3:30 pm.