GREENVILLE, N.C. – A pair of header goals in the opening half propelled the East Carolina soccer team to a 2-0 win over visiting VCU on Sunday afternoon in Johnson Stadium.
“We’ve talked about it all season, about coming out and winning the first half,” said head soccer coach Jason Hamilton. “To be up 2-0 at home on a Sunday, we knew it was going to be tough for them to get back in it. Again, just another great defensive performance. One shot against us in the first half.
“It’s going to be tough for us to lose games if we can defend that well. Just a good job executing the game plan today. I thought that was a great showing from our ladies on what we thought we needed to do to be successful.”
The Pirates improve to 4-2-0 on the season and have won three straight matches for the first time since 2018. VCU drops to 4-2-0 on the year.
East Carolina has been a slow-starting team this season, having never led at halftime and only scoring two first-half goals coming into Sunday’s match. That trend looked to continue as ECU took three shots in the opening 30 minutes, two of them saved and another missing the goal frame. However, it was a set-piece in the 32nd minute that saw ECU break the deadlock for the second straight game. This time, it was a corner kick that saw Morgan Dewey use her left foot to send an in-swinging cross towards the VCU far post. Kim Sanford was the first to react and she was able to rise up and head home for her second goal of the season.
It looked like Sanford’s goal was going to be the only tally of the opening half as the clock ticked under 15 seconds remaining. Suddenly though, Lindsey Aiken found space on the right side of the VCU penalty area. Aiken lofted a cross into the six-yard box where Peyton Godbey was waiting to score on a header of her own. It was the second goal of the season for Godbey and the first collegiate assist for Aiken.
VCU nearly got a goal of its own just two minutes into the second half. Aisha Maughan lined up a shot from the corner of the ECU 18-yard box that looked like it was heading into the back of the net, but the attempt crashed off the Pirate crossbar and away to safety.
The Rams tried to press to get back into the contest, but the Pirate defense held stout, allowing just six shots in the second half. Maeve English made a pair of stops for ECU while the rest did not hit the target, allowing the Pirates to close out the victory with a clean sheet.
“We talked about it going into the game on Thursday that we have to have a little bit more pride defensively and we should be able to win games 1-0. We’re a good enough team to keep teams off the board and get something on the other end. We saw Thursday a set piece, today a set piece and both being game-winning goals. If you can keep teams off the board, all it takes is for that one play for someone to step up and do something.”
ECU finished with an 11-7 edge in shots and a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. English finished with three saves to finish her second straight shutout and third of the season while Grace Young made four stops for the Rams.
East Carolina will hit the road for the start of a four-match road trip. The first match will be a stern test as the Pirates head to No. 5 Duke for a Thursday night kickoff.