BOILING SPRINGS - Justine Ibarra's goal in the 90th minute lifted Gardner-Webb to a 2-1 comeback win over ETSU Saturday night in the first exhibition match of the season.
Ibarra's shot from 28 yards from straight on came off the foot of senior classmate Brandi Arey with only 55 seconds left in regulation.
The Runnin' Bulldogs held a 20-16 edge in shots and put eight of those chances on goal. After a scoreless first half, the host side turned up the heat in the final 45 minutes - outshooting the Bucs by a 17-8 margin.
Freshman Stina Kleppe (Skien, Norway) tied the match in the 81st minute, blistering a shot from 32 yards into the back of the net for a 1-1 score. The rocket sent the Greene-Harbison Stadium crowd into a frenzy. Kleppe's tally came off an assist from Samuelle Grove.
Ibarra (Puyallup, Wash.) was active all evening, getting off a team-high five shots - including three on goal. Grove had three shots on goal as well to go with an assist.
Kleppe, Jessica Ferguson (Lawrence, Kan.) and Eline Glamsland (Lillesand, Norway) each had a pair of shots for Gardner-Webb. Freshman Ty Snell (Lake Forest, Calif.) also had a shot on goal for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Sophomore keeper Keely Brown (Finneytown, Ohio) played well between the posts, saving five shots in the match. Brown's first half play included a highlight-reel save to preserve a scoreless tie.
ETSU took the first lead of the match in the 57th minute, as midfielder Elonora Goldoni took a pass from Irina Brutsch and connected on a header inside the far post.
Three different ETSU keepers combined for six saves on the night.
The two teams played a crisp match overall, with only 15 combined fouls whistled.
Gardner-Webb will open its regular season next Friday, hosting Troy University at 7:00 pm on August 19.