by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – Except for the final 30 seconds of the first half, the Barton women's soccer team stood toe-to-toe with nationally-ranked No. 22 Limestone College on Saturday at the Barton Outdoor Athletics Complex.
However, one lapse in effort in the waning stages of the period proved fatal for the Lady Bulldogs, as the Saints cashed in with the only goal they would need in a 1-0 Conference Carolinas road victory.
Barton (1-3-2, 0-1-2) had withstood five first-half shot attempts by Limestone (4-1, 2-0) in the first 44 minutes, and when the ball was played back to the Saints keeper with 30 seconds to go, seemed headed to halftime with an acceptable tie.
However, the Lady Bulldogs let up on defense, allowing Limestone to quickly move the ball into BC territory. Barton had an opportunity to clear the ball, but it was picked off by a Saint defender and passed to Millie Shaw. The junior defender then dribbled around three Barton defenders and dropped off a pass on the left wing to junior Holly Rawcliffe, who fired a shot off the right post and into the net with 20 seconds left in the period.
The Barton defense kept Limestone off the board the rest of the night, helped by six saves from senior keeper Haley Sauls.
And the Barton offense, which was limited to just one first-half attempt, created several second-half opportunities in the second period. Sophomore Rebekah Beal had a great look from the right wing that narrowly missed the far post, and leading scorer Jordyn Brown later broke free in the box for a shot that was stopped by Limestone keeper Veronica Smeltzer.
The Lady Bulldogs controlled play for much of the final 15 minutes as it pressed on offense, but Barton could not create the equalizer to send the match into overtime.
Limestone ended the day with a 14-5 edge in total shots, including a 7-2 margin in shots on goal.
Barton will play former conference member Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C., on Wednesday at 6 p.m. before returning to league play on Saturday with a match at Southern Wesleyan University.