"I think this is a good starting point for us," said head coach Patrick Baker. "We saw some good individual things and some good positional things, especially from our back four. I thought our wide flank players did a good job as well. We had a good activity level and made some good runs at the restraining line, although we did not have as much success beating the restraining line as I'd like to. We feel like we're getting close."
"I thought we showed a great energy level from all four forwards also," continued Baker. "We had good athleticism with Ali (Williams) and Erin (Sekerak). Kasey (Kaspar) did remarkably well in her 30 minutes and Amber Tacke did a great job with her back to goal. Our engine room, the center midfield, also did a great job with Randi-Lynn Bruso and Kathleen (Howe). We started three freshmen and some players in different positions, and I think we showed well for our first time out, especially against a team from the ACC."
Less than five minutes into the game, Williams scored the contest's first goal off of a long feed from junior center midfielder Randi-Lynn Bruso. Bruso played a long ball from just inside N.C. State's half of the field ahead to a streaking Williams who beat her defender to the ball, took a dribble around the goalkeeper and knocked it in. In the 68th minute of the game, freshman center midfielder Kathleen Howe served a corner kick to the far side of the penalty box, where freshman center back Megan Tomlinson headed it back toward the middle of the box. The ball came down in front of Williams again, who one-timed it out of the air to notch her second score.
"I was really excited," said Williams. "It's definitely an adrenaline rush playing up top. You have to watch for anything that drops into the box, especially off of a corner because there can be a lot of deflections. Kathleen sent in the corner, Megan headed it and it just dropped right in front of me."
The Bulldog's defensive unit held the Wolfpack in check for the entire scrimmage, allowing just one shot on goal and six total shots in the game. Redshirt junior center back Catherine Bruce and Tomlinson played all 90 minutes of the scrimmage, along with junior goalkeeper Beth Klueter.
"(The defensive unit) worked well together for never having played in a game situation as a unit, even with two freshmen," said Bruce. "They stepped up and didn't show their age at all, especially Tomlinson, who was dominating in the middle. She played like she was a senior. Then we had Kristin (Garman) start on the outside, and we played like had always been playing together. Lena (Franklin) was solid on the other side too. It was good to see, it was a good start."
"The pace of play was a lot faster than in club," said Tomlinson. "But Catherine was very helpful telling me where to go and where to help out when people were sliding up from the back. We maintained a cup-shaped back line, which helped with the pressure-cover we've been working on in practice."
Klueter was only required to make one save in the contest.
"I'm really excited," said Klueter. "It felt good to be out there. I don't think I was tested, I only had one save to make because the back four did such a great job. We just needed to keep it organized. I felt we communicated well and kept dangerous balls to a minimum."
Baker was also pleased with the play of his defensive unit.
"I think a lot of people forgot about Bruce after her (season-ending) injury against Florida State last year," said Baker. "She was a key component for this team when they went to the NCAA's in 2003. Then you throw in Tomlinson, who we felt so good about during recruiting, and she showed everyone why today. Then there's Garman who did a good job. That's why we recruited her all along, she was very good. And Lena did a very nice job at outside back. During the game there were four different back fours in there, and we switched it up a little at the end. I thought the way we defended was very good."
The Bulldog soccer team opens its season on Friday, August 26, at 7:00 p.m. at the Georgia Soccer Complex on South Milledge Avenue.