September 27, 2011

Men's Soccer Set to Battle 13th-Ranked Clayton State

Contact Joey Daniels,

DAHLONEGA, GA - North Georgia will look to bounce back this week after dropping a tough game on the road at Montevallo over the weekend. The game was there for the taking, but the Saints could not capitalize and lost 2-1. North Georgia currently sits in second place, but will face a tall task in traveling to Clayton State on Wednesday evening. 

Wednesday, September 28, 7:30 PM, vs. Clayton State, Morrow, GA

Clayton State Lakers Body of Work
Current Record: 6-2 (1-1 PBC)
Conference Rank: 5th
Conference Prediction in 2011: 1st
Goal Differential in 2011: +9
Last Season vs. Saints: Clayton State won 4-3

All-Conference Returnees - Clayton State brings back a trio of Peach Belt All-Conference players from last season, most likely the reason they were picked to repeat as conference champions. Ryan Pugh, Matty Phillips and goalkeeper Brian Garcia, all return for head coach Pete Petersen. So far they have lived up to the billing. 

Avenging Last Year - North Georgia had then ranked-23rd Clayton State on the ropes at home last season. In what would have been a huge upset and a key win for the Saints that season, turned out to be a loss and a falling out down the stretch. North Georgia jumped all over the Lakers early with a 2-0 lead, but squandered it away and fell in overtime 4-3. It would appear as though the Saints can run up and down with Clayton State; it's putting them away that they need to do better this time around.

Hangover? Is it possible that the 6-2 drubbing North Georgia put on Alabama-Huntsville on Tuesday carried over to Saturday's loss at Montevallo? Not to take anything away from the Falcons, but the Saints looked like a completely different on Saturday than they did when they scored six goals just four days before. Maybe North Georgia was on a high and thought they would walk all over Montevallo, who lost to Huntsville the week before 3-1. Perhaps that's the result of a young team, or maybe that's why they play the game. 

Hernandez Heroics - The North Georgia freshman scored three goals last week including the lone goal at Montevallo. Manuel Hernandez now leads the Saints in points and goals. He has played in all eight games this season for Pat Parris, starting in six of them. The Venezuelan may be catching his stride at the right time, just as we hit the stretch of the season and conference play.

Defense Down - The Saints will have to face a talented Clayton State squad without its top defender, Zachry Samples. Samples received a red card at Montevallo on Saturday and will have to sit and watch as his team challenges arguably the best team in the conference Wednesday night. Samples is coming off a stellar week in which he earned Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week honors. Pat Parris will now have to shuffle the lineup to fill the void.