BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Brandi Arey recorded her first career hat trick to lead Gardner-Webb to a 4-1 win over South Carolina State Wednesday night.
"It was good for our confidence to see the ball go in the back of the net," said head coach Mike Varga. "I thought Brandi was fantastic tonight. She put her chances away and was aggressive going to goal. Her teammates did a good job finding her.
"It was disappointing to allow the late goal against, but we got a lot of players minutes tonight and overall it was a good match for us."
Offensive pressure was key for the Runnin' Bulldogs (2-3-2) as they controlled possession for most of the match.
The match was rather quiet for the first five minutes until Arey found the back of the net off of a goalkeeper miscue. She was able to intercept a pass from the keeper before putting the ball home for her second goal of the season.
South Carolina State's first opportunity came in the 24th minute of the match when Justina Jarema fired a shot from 25 yards out. That shot was saved by Gardner-Webb's keeper Keely Brown.
The Runnin' Bulldogs' next chance to extend the lead just three minutes later when freshman Eline Glamsland found her senior counterpart Sydney David sprinting down the field for a shot, which was negated by David being offside.
Gardner-Webb had two opportunities during the 30th minute of the first half when Arey and David both had shots blocked by the South Carolina State defense.
The Runnin' Bulldogs continued the pressure just three minutes later when senior Justine Ibarra cut loose a shot that sailed just high over the net.
Gardner-Webb had another chance 60 seconds later when Arey was able to key in on another South Carolina State keeper miscue, which she placed on target forcing the keeper to make a save with her head.
The Runnin' Bulldogs continued to apply pressure on the visiting Bulldogs as the half wound down, but the score remained 1-0 at the break.
Gardner-Webb kept momentum on their side to open the second half, as sophomore Samuelle Grove blistered a shot just 45 seconds into the half that went high over the crossbar.
Arey had another chance to add to her season total and the lead in the 58th minute when she took a shot from close - but was turned away by a stout South Carolina State defense.
After a number of opportunities, Gardner-Webb added to their lead as Arey scored her second goal of the game in the 65th minute after Glamsland found her off of a rebound attempt.
The Runnin' Bulldogs would triple the lead when junior Jessica Ferguson got an assist from the crossbar as she was able to put ball in the back of the net for a 3-0 lead.
Arey completed her hat trick in the 74th minute as Ibarra found her on a breakaway to put Gardner-Webb up 4-0.
The visiting Bulldogs cut the lead down the lead to three with four minutes left in the match when Tierra Pullard found Justine Zepada on a cross into the box. Zepada put the ball away for the final margin.
Gardner-Webb was led by Arey who had three goals and Ferguson who had one goal. Arey had seven shots on the night, with all on frame in a dominant performance.
South Carolina State was led by Zepada, who had the lone goal with Justina Jarema providing two shots (one on goal).
Gardner-Webb will return to action on Friday, September 9 as Appalachian State pays a visit to Boiling Springs. Kickoff is 7:00 pm at Greene-Harbison Stadium.