Lady Bulldogs nearly pull off upset

Barton gives No. 22 Limestone a scare in 1-0 loss

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For 44 minutes Saturday afternoon, the plan to escape Barton Outdoor Athletic Complex with the team’s third draw in as many Conference Carolinas tilts was firmly in play for the Barton College women’s soccer team.

Then, a momentary lapse arrived. That was more than enough for No. 22-ranked Limestone College.

Barton’s defense relaxed on a Lady Saints throw in, allowing Limestone to steadily organize. When all was said and done, Millie Shaw fed Holly Rawcliffe on the left wing, who cranked a shot onto the far post. The ball caromed off the post and past senior goalkeeper Hayley Sauls, allowing Limestone to strike with 20 seconds left in the first half. That was all the Lady Saints would require in securing a 1-0 victory.

Barton fell to 1-3-2 overall and 0-1-2 within the league, while Limestone moved to 4-1 in all matches, 2-0 against Conference Carolinas opposition.

Indeed, Barton head coach Thomas Goines saw trouble lurking as soon as Limestone engineered its throw-in.

“It’s one of those things you talk to them and say when you’re playing against a very good team, you have to be focused for the entire match,” Goines said. “(Limestone) took advantage of a minute lapse where we just kind of decided to turn off for about a minute, and they make you pay for it. That’s a good team, so you can’t give them any kind of looks on your frame. And if you do, you’re hoping they miss.”

Barton, committed to not overly exposing itself on the attack, registered its only shot of the first half in the 44th minute. Junior transfer Laisy Scardazzi cranked a shot from the middle of the field, but it scurried high over the crossbar.

The Lady Bulldogs, who were outshot 14-5, were kept within distance of an equalizer thanks to steady goaltending from Sauls, who had six saves. Barton mounted a decent push in the 76th when Scardazzi found another transfer in sophomore Rebekah Beal on the through ball. However, Beal’s effort to tie was thwarted after her shot curled away from the far post and past the end line.

Limestone’s Veronica Smeltzer had two saves for the Lady Saints in preserving the shutout.

“They’re a stout team and they’re going to put you under pressure,” Goines said of Limestone. “At this point where we’re at, we can hope for a good countering game. I thought we did that well. Both halves, I think we had two, maybe three legitimate scoring chances. That’s what you hope for in a match like this, where you know the other team might have a little more firepower than you.”

Barton hits the road Tuesday to face former conference foe Pfeiffer University, which reclassified to Division III beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.