ROCK HILL, S.C. - Senior Brandi Arey scored in the 74th minute to provide the game winner for Gardner-Webb in a 2-1 victory at Winthrop Saturday afternoon in a crucial Big South Conference game.
With the win, Gardner-Webb (8-7-2, 5-2-0 Big South) remains squarely in the mix for the Big South regular season crown with two matches left on the schedule. The Runnin' Bulldogs are currently in a tie for first place atop the standings.
"Winthrop made it very tough for us today," said head coach Mike Varga. "It wasn't our best match, but that was due to Winthrop's play. We found a way to win on the road and that is what we needed to do. Stina scored a nice goal from Brandi and then returned the favor for a great finish from Brandi. It was good to see the two of them linking up in the box.
"Our back line was just tough today. We got a little nicked up but kept at it. I'm very proud of our effort."
Gardner-Webb went to work early in the match, with Eline Glamsland sending a shot that went just high over the crossbar only six minutes in. GWU got off five more shots over a nine-minute span in the first half, but all were saved to keep the battle scoreless at the break.
The Runnin' Bulldogs applied more pressure out of the locker room, with Stine Kleppe breaking the tie from 19 yards out in the 54th minute. Arey provided the assist, finding Kleppe wide open in the center, with the freshman tickling the twine past the Winthrop keeper for a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles (3-10-0, 0-5-0 Big South) knotted the match, however, as Natalie Royaards chipped a shot over the GWU keeper off an assist from Anne Cushman for a 1-1 score with 35 minutes left in the match.
The two teams traded possessions over the next 18 minutes until Arey put home the game winner from eight yards out. Justin Ibarra attempted a corner kick that found the foot of Glamsland to start the action, then Glamsland hit a wide-open Kleppe who sent the assist to Arey for her fifth goal of the season.
The Gardner-Webb defense turned away any thoughts of an Eagles' rally for the team's fourth win in a row.
The Runnin' Bulldogs got three shots from Arey (all on frame) and Kleppe (two shots on goal). Glamsland also assisted on Arey's goal and saw four shots from Samuelle Grove.
The Eagles were led by Royaards, who had the lone goal on the day, while also receiving shots from Costello with three shots (all on frame) and Samantha Prytulak, who added a shot of her own.
Gardner-Webb will be back in action on Wednesday, October 19, as they host the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm in Boiling Springs.