Junior Chloe Rader scored on a penalty kick at the 77:17 mark and freshman goalkeeper Haley Gribler came up with six big saves in the first half to help the Lee women's soccer team come away with a 1-0 victory over a very strong Emory University squad on Friday evening.
Playing before one of the largest crowd ever at the Lee Soccer Field on Kickin' it for Kids with Cancer night, the two-evenly matched teams gave the fans exactly what they came to see, a contest which went right down to the final kick.
The PK came after a foul in the box, and Rader wasted no time in blasting the kick past Eagle keeper Liz Arnold and into the left side of the net. Arnold turned away five other shots on goal and the Lady Flames attempted 12 shots.
"It was a well-played match on both sides," said coach Matt Yelton, who directed the Lady Flames to their first win of the season against two defeats. "We played well in California and had nothing to show for it. This win should give the girls some confidence heading into a very tough schedule."
While Yelton was pleased with the win, he was more excited about the crowd and having his team play in this special event. "First and foremost I want to say how excited I am about the opportunity to represent the Austin Hatcher Foundation in tonight's match. As much as we enjoy playing the game, tonight was about playing for a bigger cause than any win or loss."
The coach added, "I want to recognize the effort that my wife (Tamara) put into making this event such a success. She works behind the scene all year long to make tonight a big success and we couldn't pull it off without her."
Gribler turned back a furious Emory attempt to score late in the first half and tallied six of her eight total saves in the opening 45 minutes. At one point she leaped to pull down an almost sure goal by the Eagles. "I've played in a lot of big games in high school," she said, "But the pace of the college game is so much quicker. My teammates had my back all the way tonight."
Yelton had nothing but praise for his squad. "I thought tonight's performance was very good, and the team showed a great response after two tough losses in California. I was really pleased with the character we showed in coming back off that tough road trip and lifting our heads and putting in a fine performance tonight."
After turning back the late first half charge by the Eagles, the Lady Flames kept the pressure on the visitors for the majority of the second stanza and it finally paid off when a corner kick resulted in the foul in the box. During the entire 90 minutes Lee picked up nine corner kicks to just four for Emory.
The schedule does not get any easier for the Lady Flames. They will hit the road again for three straight matches, facing their first Gulf South Conference test at North Alabama, then traveling to Columbus State and finally facing NAIA powerhouse Lindsey-Wilson before returning home to entertain West Georgia on Oct. 2.