It was a back-and-forth battle in the first half when the University of North Georgia women’s soccer team faced the University of South Carolina, Aiken, on Oct. 31 in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference tournament in Dahlonega. At the end of the first half it was a scoreless game.
Then Taylor Malasek and McKay Shively happened.
Both Malasek and Shively scored hat tricks in the second half to lead the Nighthawks to a 9-0 win over the Pacers.
“I think we were really focused tonight. We just meshed as a team. It was definitely a team effort,” Shively said.
The Nighthawks came out firing in the second half as Malasek scored off an assist from Rosie Embley in the 48th minute. Malasek wasn’t satisfied with just one goal and added a second in the 55th minute off an assist from Asa Thorsen.
Renee VanHorn contributed to the Nighthawks’ surge of goals when she scored in the 59th minute to put them up 3-0.
UNG continued to open the floodgate of goals on the Pacers, being composed and showing no mercy.
“We just relaxed — I mean in the first half we were a little bit nervous,” UNG head coach Chris Adams said. “A lot was riding on this game. As great a season as we have had, if you drop a game like that your season ends.”
Malasek helped ensure North Georgia’s season did not end at the hands of USCA by completing her hat trick, adding her third goal when VanHorn dished it to her in 62nd minute, stretching the lead to 4-0.
Goal scoring then became contagious as Shively gave UNG its fifth goal of the night in the 69th minute off an assist by Malasek.
“We just got a little pep in our step and we were motivated to score some goals just because we want to go into this postseason as sharp as possible,” Shively said.
Shively’s motivation was shown when she added her second goal in the 71st minute off an assist from Malasek to put North Georgia up 6-0.
Brynn Finneran joined in on the scoring when she delivered UNG’s seventh goal in the 73rd minute off an assist by Logan Martin.
Martin then added a goal of her own for UNG in the 78th minute off an assist from Kristina Burkingstock before Shively capped things off with the ninth goal in the 86th minute off an assist from Maria Maggio. The team’s final goal also provided Shively her third goal, completing the hat trick.