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Cross-country team picked to win Peach Belt Conference

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UNG's cross-country team was picked as the preseason favorite in the Peach Belt Conference.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) cross-country team enters this fall as the preseason Peach Belt Conference (PBC) favorite, and head coach Tom Williams won't back away from that prediction by his fellow PBC coaches.

"We have set a standard and a goal of a conference championship in 2019 and a spot in the national championship meet," Williams said. "We have set high goals for ourselves, but we believe they can be obtained."

All-conference performers Aleah Johnson, Bree Hammond and Kaylee Haake return from the 2018 team that finished second in the PBC. Johnson and Hammond are seniors, and Haake is a junior.

The cross-country team opens 2019 at the VSU Border Clash 5K hosted by Valdosta State at 7 p.m. Sept. 6. It hosts the seventh annual UNG Invitational at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 14 at the UNG Cross Country Course on the Gainesville Campus.

Williams' team is one of three from UNG who harbor high hopes for the fall season. Both UNG soccer teams were picked third in their respective preseason PBC polls.

The UNG women's soccer team opens the season against Limestone College at 5 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Soccer Complex on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. The men's team welcomes Lincoln Memorial University at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 for its season opener.

The UNG women's soccer team has 13 newcomers and six seniors.

Senior defender Olivia Dumphy and junior forward Taylor Malasek represent the UNG women's soccer team on the preseason all-conference list. Malasek had eight goals in 2018, most among returning UNG players and tied for 10th in the PBC a season ago. Dumphy started all 16 games for a defense that allowed the fourth-fewest goals in the PBC. The women's soccer team went 10-5-1 overall and 6-3-1 in PBC play in 2018.

"The new players are hungry to do what it takes to succeed on this level," women's soccer head coach Chris Adams said.

Meanwhile, the men's soccer team has 17 newcomers and six seniors.

Redshirt senior defender Jordan Day and senior midfielder Evan Davis are preseason all-conference picks for the men's team. Davis scored a goal in 2018. Day returns after missing all but three games in 2018, and he had a goal and three assists in 2017. The men's soccer team was 7-6-2 overall and 4-3 in PBC action in 2018.

Men's soccer head coach Patrice Parris said his older players must be mentors for his group's newcomers as the Nighthawks look to contend in the PBC.

"We're here to compete," Parris said. "That's the bottom line."

Also this fall, UNG's softball team plays five exhibition games: 1 p.m. Sept. 29 at Furman University, 5 p.m. doubleheader Oct. 4 against Truett McConnell University in Dahlonega, 11 a.m. Oct. 20 in Dahlonega versus Georgia Military College, and 3 p.m. Oct. 20 against Clemson University in Dahlonega.

For more information on UNG's teams, check out the UNG Athletics website.

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