ECU opens season with 2-1 loss to Old Dominion

ECU Pirates

Peyton Godbey (ECU Sports Information photo)

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NORFOLK, VA. – In a hard-fought season-opener, the East Carolina soccer team dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Old Dominion on Thursday evening.

“Credit to Old Dominion, they played a great game and wanted it a little more in overtime,” said Head Soccer Coach Jason Hamilton.

The Pirates start the season 0-1-0 while the Monarchs open 1-0-0.

The game could not have gotten off too much worse of a start for the Pirates. After East Carolina took the opening kickoff, the Monarchs recovered possession and drove the ball deep into the Pirate half. The ball eventually reached Megan Watts who lined up a shot from the top of the East Carolina box. Watts’s effort found the bottom left corner to open the scoring just 39 seconds into the match.

After the early punch from the Monarchs, East Carolina wasted little time answering back. The Pirates shifted the ball to Haley McWhirter who took on an Old Dominion defender down the right wing. McWhirter was able to find space to cross into the box to a waiting Carsen Parker. Parker lined up a low shot that was saved by Old Dominion’s Kasey Perry, but the ball deflected right to Peyton Godbey who tapped home into the empty net to tie the game just 5:01 after Watts’ opening marker.

“We had a very shaky start to the game, giving up a goal in the first minute,” Hamilton said. “But credit to our team for fighting back less than five minutes later.”

After the opening flurry of scoring, both teams settled into a defensive battle. The Pirates had the majority of possession in the first 45 minutes, holding the ball 55% of the time, but the Monarchs finished the half outshooting ECU 9-6. Maeve English had three saves for the Pirates while Tori Riggs forced Perry into a save.

The second half continued to see the defenses tighten up. The two teams combined for just five shots in the second stanza. Holly Schlagel put a pair of shots on goal, but Perry made saves on both of them as well as just beating Samantha Moxie to a through ball from Annabelle Abbott when it looked like Moxie might have a chance to score.

Still deadlocked, the two teams went to overtime. As the minutes wore on, the game began to stretch from end to end. After the Monarchs ended a Pirate move, Old Dominion quickly pushed the ball up field. The ball eventually made it to the right corner of the ECU end before a cross reached Ece Turkoglu. Turkoglu squared a pass into the middle of
the Pirate box where Emma Gervase was waiting to knock home the winner.

Old Dominion finished with a 14-8 edge in shots and a slight 51-49 lead in possession. English made four saves for the Pirates while Perry finished with three stops for the Monarchs.

“We have a young team and this is a great learning opportunity for us,” Hamilton added. “Games on the road are extremely tough and when you go into overtime, you have to think safe. Fatigue starts to set in and decision making becomes slower and harder. We will bounce back from this and improve from here.”

The Pirates will have a chance to bounce back quickly as they return home for a Sunday afternoon match against VMI. The contest is slated for a 4:05 p.m., kickoff inside Johnson Stadium.

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