GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina women’s soccer team is set to open their 2023 season on Thursday as they travel to Gainesville, Fla. for a tilt with the Florida Gators. Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be available for streaming on SEC Network+. Kyle Crooks and Matt Stubbington will be on the call.
The Pirates opened up their 2023 campaign with a pair of exhibition matches. First, the team came from behind to beat Elon 2-1 in Johnson Stadium. Newcomers Emma Sheehan and Keyera Wynn scored the two goals in quick succession in the second half. The Pirates followed that up with a valiant effort against No. 2 North Carolina in Chapel Hill where they gave up two goals in the first 32 minutes then no more for a 2-0 margin. The Tar Heels had won their first exhibition 8-1.
2022 In Review
The Pirates got off to a roaring start to the Gary Higgins era, racing out to a 5-3-1 start and received votes in the United Soccer Coaches Poll after defeating then-No. 19 SMU. But the injury bug struck, and the short-handed Pirates battled hard to an 8-7-3 regular season to earn an American Athletic Conference Tournament berth where they fell narrowly, 1-0, in overtime at Memphis.
Carsen Parker led the Pirates with six goals a season ago, but the defense was the star of the show as Jazmin Ferguson won American Rookie of the Year and the Pirates back line along with goalkeeper Maeve English shut out seven opponents. Parker and English both joined Ferguson on the All-Conference squads.
New Kids on the Pitch
Seven newcomers will join the 2023 squad including a trio of transfer forwards in Emma Sheehan (Seton Hall), Julianna Viera (Oklahoma Wesleyan), and Keyera Wynn (Maryland). A quartet of incoming freshman features three defenders in Ella Steck, Sydney Cox and England native Lucy Fazackerley who played club football for Arsenal’s youth side. Elsa Stedman also joins the freshman class in the midfield position.
Scouting the Gators
Florida will look to rebound after a difficult 2022 season with a 2-14-1 record and a winless 0-9-1 docket against SEC opponents. The team struggled defensively with 39 goals allowed while only putting up 16 tallies of their own with no player scoring more than two while Delaney Tauzel led the team with 7 points total.
The series between East Carolina and Florida received an epic revival a season ago. After a 19-year layoff in the series, the Pirates stunned the Gators last year 2-1 on the foot of a Carsen Parker free kick. Florida does hold the edge in the series in three matchups with the other games coming in 1995 and 2003.
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