As the spring semester draws to a close, sports fanatics at North Georgia will soon turn their undivided attention to fall athletics.
With no football team to cheer for, men’s and women’s soccer will certainly grab the headlines.
Last fall, the Lady Saints’ soccer team completed their most successful season in school history, racking up a school-record 16 wins and earning the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II national tournament.
North Georgia finished its season at 16-3-1, with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the seventh-ranked Armstrong Atlantic Pirates.
Seniors Emily Dover and Natalie Douglass, along with sophomore Kelly Pinston, were a big reason for the breakout season, as all three were named to the Southeast All-Region Team.
Dover tallied a school-record 16 goals and five assists, while taking home first-team honors. Douglass and Pinston made the second-team.
Head Coach Chris Adams will look to build off of last year’s tremendous success while dealing with the loss of five seniors, most notably Dover, Douglass and goalkeeper Kirsten Ross.
Replacing Dover’s production should be a daunting task for the Lady Saints, but Adams can take comfort in the return of Pinston and rising seniors Abby Trevino, Kelsey Martin and Taylor Lee, who each finished tied for the team-lead with seven assists.
The men’s team also finished strong last season, winning three of its last four to end the 2011 campaign with a 9-7-1 mark.
Jesy Phelps and Rade Tanaskovic both made the Peach Belt All-Conference second team.
Tanaskovic tallied an impressive 52 saves in goal for the Saints and recorded two shutouts in his final year at North Georgia. Phelps, who will be a senior in the fall, was solid all season long while splitting time between midfield and defense.
The team’s season ended with a loss to the Clayton State Lakers in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
Head Coach, Pat Parris loses three starters, but returns a bevy of talent, including freshman standout Manuel Hernandez, who led the team in goals with seven.
The squad will also bring back Phelps, Max Angel and several others who contributed to the team’s success.
New to the fall sports scene is women’s cross country, which will field a team for the first time in several years.
Head coach Thomas Williams believes the school is an ideal place for a cross country program and emphasized that he can lead his runners to success.
“North Georgia is a unique value because you have the best of both worlds; you’re in the mountains, but close to the city with 400. This is going to be an exciting year for North Georgia women’s cross country,” Williams said.
So even without football, there should be no shortage of excitement in fall sports at North Georgia.