University of Mount Olive outshot Georgia College 10-4 in the second half, including a near goal in the final minute of the match, but the rally came up short as the Trojans fell to the Bobcats 1-0 in non-conference women's soccer in the "Believe Kickoff Classic" Sponsored by Jordan Logistics. The contest was the season opener for both teams and marked the head coaching debut of longtime Trojan assistant coach and UMO alum Reid Clewis.
The tournament name was inspired by "Believe In a Cure," the motto for the fight against cancer. Donations were collected for Southeastern Cancer Care, a Goldsboro-based non-profit organization that assists cancer patients with everyday needs. A dedication ceremony was held prior to the match honoring Aaron and Cheri Jordan, owners of tournament sponsor Jordan Logistics.
Mount Olive (0-1-0) looked to even the match with 43 seconds left in the contest as Nichole Poppe had an open shot from inside the box. Georgia College goalkeeper Ashlee Graham reached her right hand out and got just enough of the ball to preserve the shutout.
"I told Nichole after the match that nine times out of 10, that ball goes in," said Clewis, who had spent eight of the previous nine seasons as UMO assistant women's soccer coach. "Their keeper just made an unreal save."
Graham also came up big early in the first half, making a save on a Trojan penalty kick after Georgia College was called for a handball in the box.
Georgia College (1-0-0) scored the lone goal of the match at the 20:59 mark when Maddy Stephen found Anya Mancinelli in the box for a 10-yard shot.
Mount Olive finished the match with a 12-10 shot advantage. Trojan goalkeeper Stephanie McCoy recorded seven saves, including a kick save on a point blank shot in the second half. Graham had six saves for the Bobcats.
In the tournament opener, Barton College defeated Goldey-Beacom College 1-0 in a weather-shortened contest. Ellen Jayne scored the game winner in the 71st minute. The match was halted by lightning three minutes later after a delay of nearly an hour, the contest was called.
Start time for the Mount Olive-Georgia College match was delayed by 55 minutes.
Along with the head coaching debut of Clewis, Friday's match marked the return of team captain Christine Rocchio, who missed all of last year with an injury.
"Words can't describe how amazing it feels to get back on the field," said Rocchio, a senior from Saddle Brook, N.J. "It means so much to be back out there with all the girls."
Despite the loss, both Clewis and Rocchio praised the team's effort.
"The girls worked hard tonight," said Clewis. "This is about the closest you can come to feeling good after a loss."
"I feel like we can build from this," said Rocchio. "Reid and Erica (assistant coach Erica Slack) have done a great job motivating all of us and I feel we'll be ready to go again Sunday."
The tournament concludes Sunday afternoon as the Trojans play host to Goldey-Beacom. Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Amon Field and will be followed at 4 p.m. by men's soccer action between the Trojans and Goldey-Beacom.