Georgia Gwinnett’s men soccer is off to a roaring start this season with multiple key wins already on the resume. The Grizzlies are ranked 13th nationally entering the season in the opening NAIA Men’s Soccer Top 25 released this past August. Through eight matches this season, Georgia Gwinnett has an impressive record of 4-2-2. After a hot start, a few defensive setbacks have given Georgia Gwinnett two losses in their last four contests. As expected with a lot of young, new faces, team chemistry and strong defensive outings will be built through game experience. The talented Grizzlies have weathered the storm and appear ready to continue their run at national glory.
Georgia Gwinnett opened their season with the 2nd annual Grizzly Kickoff Classic hosted right here on the Georgia Gwinnett College campus here in Lawrenceville. Georgia Gwinnett started the event off with an impressive 5-0 route over Alabama’s Talladega College on Friday, Aug. 21t. The Grizzlies tallied three first half goals to kick off the 2015 campaign in style. With a win on the sheet, Georgia Gwinnett were challenged in match two on Saturday against the #1 team in the nation, Davenport University out of Michigan. Proving to be a difficult foe, the Grizzlies trailed for the first time as Davenport scored early in the second half to take a 1-0 lead. Georgia Gwinnett was able to respond with an equalizer just minutes after the Davenport goal. Two overtimes of chances for both teams wasn’t enough, as the two teams finished the match with a draw.
Taking their unbeaten streak on the road, Georgia Gwinnett was able to defeat Louisiana State- Alexandria in a neutral site contest in Montgomery, Ala. The Grizzlies were able to handle some adversity and come away with a 2-1 victory away from the friendly confines of the Grizzly Soccer Complex. Georgia Gwinnett returned home from the Friday win over LSU- Alexandria to take on another out of state opponent, Southeastern University of Lakeland, Fla. A bit of fatigue from the road contest carried over to match number four as Southeastern University scored three first half goals against the Grizzlies, the first time GGC has given up that many goals in a half in school history. Georgia Gwinnett scored three goals of their own in the final twelve minute span to win the match, 4-3. One of the more memorable performances in Georgia Gwinnett soccer history, GGC moved to 3-0-1 with the win.
Making the furthest away trip in Georgia Gwinnett’s young soccer history, the Grizzlies traveled 700 miles north to Goshen, In. for a two game event against a pair of Indiana schools for matches five and six. The opener on Sept. 4 was a disappointment as Georgia Gwinnett’s twenty plus shots on goal weren’t enough as they couldn’t find the back of the net in the 1-0 loss to Holy Cross College. Fortunate to find their winning ways quickly, the Green and Gray bounced back from their first defeat with a 1-0 win over host Goshen College.
Georgia Gwinnett fell short at home in match seven as Reinhardt University came to town capitalizing on poor Grizzly mistakes. A few defensive blunders gave away two quick Eagle goals to seal a 2-0 victory over Georgia Gwinnett in Lawrenceville.
In what was a crucial momentum match of the season, match eight delivered one of the best as nationally ranked #15 Auburn Montgomery-University visited the Grizzly Soccer Complex on Sept. 15. Georgia Gwinnett opened the game with a first half goal to lead at halftime, 1-0. Auburn Montgomery scored a trio of goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half to really put the Grizzlies in a bind, trailing 3-1 in the second half for the second time this season. In another courageous effort, Georgia Gwinnett leveled 3-3 with two fantastic finishes to tie the game with 20 minutes remaining. A series of back and forth encounters led to an Auburn Montgomery penalty in the 85th minute of the match, giving the visitors a 4-3 lead with five minutes to play. In what could be argued as the play of the season for the Grizzlies, John Connor found the back of the net with two minutes remaining to tie the contest, 4-4. The game finished as a 4-4 draw after neither team could score in two overtime periods. Marching back from second half deficits twice to tie the game against a national power in Auburn Montgomery will give Georgia Gwinnett an all-time high of confidence and momentum heading forward in the last months of the season.
Georgia Gwinnett is eight matches into the season with a record of 4 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws. While the setback losses to Reinhardt and Holy Cross aren’t ideal, the two draws against top 20 opponents in Davenport and Auburn Montgomery show the Grizzlies can compete at the highest level nationally. Georgia Gwinnett hosts Middle Georgia State University on Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m., before traveling to Mississippi for an away tilt at William Carey College on the 21.
By Cody Butler