WINSTON-SALEM – Gardner-Webb played stout defense early on, but Dartmouth put across two goals in the final 28 minutes of play to take a 2-0 win over the Runnin' Bulldogs Sunday.
"This weekend was a good experience for our team," said head coach Mike Varga. "We played two very good programs and found some things we still need to work on. We showed that we are getting better.
"Dartmouth is a well-coached, disciplined team. We made a couple of mistakes and they made us pay. We have a tough stretch coming up, so we will regroup and get ready for Wednesday."
Gardner-Webb (1-2-2) fought off an early charge by Dartmouth (3-1-0), with the Big Green coming out firing with an onslaught of shots just more than a minute into the match. After a Dartmouth shot was blocked, the Gardner-Webb defense saw seven shots over the first 10 minutes – but were able to keep those chances out of the net. Keely Brown continued her strong play during that stretch with four critical saves.
Stina Kleppe gave Gardner-Webb its first opportunity with a shot in the 11th minute, but it was wide.
The Big Green would answer back with a mini 3-0 flurry of shots over a span of six minutes, but Brown and the Gardner-Webb defense turned them away again.
The final 20 minutes of the half were rather quiet, as the two teams combined for a total of four shots and one corner kick to end the first 45 in a scoreless draw.
Dartmouth came out of the break with the momentum as Zoe Enright was able to get behind the Gardner-Webb defense just 30 seconds in and was able to get a shot off that forced Brown to make another save.
Gardner-Webb's first pressure on the Dartmouth defense in the half came in the 48th minute as Kleppe sent a shot towards the net that was blocked by the Big Green defense.
The next 14 minutes were calm, then Dartmouth got through in the 62nd minute – with Meredith Gurney finding Charlotte Esty on a cross from the left side that found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. The score ended a 256-minute scoreless stretch for Brown, who has played very well again between the posts for the Runnin' Bulldogs to date in 2016.
Brandi Arey made a run five minutes later, but Dartmouth was able to turn her chance away.
Dartmouth capped its scoring in the 82nd minute, as Gia Parker found Zoe Enright on a cross – and Enright fired past the far post for the final margin.
Gardner-Webb was led by Kleppe, who had five shots (one on goal). Dartmouth was led by Esty and Enright, who each had a goal.
Gardner-Webb will return to the pitch on Wednesday, September 7 against South Carolina State in the beginning of a two-match home stand. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm.