McWhirter, English earn weekly AAC awards

ECU Pirates

Maeve English and Haley McWhirter (ECU Sports Information photo)

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – For the second straight week, Haley McWhirter and Maeve English of the East Carolina soccer team earned weekly awards, as announced by the league office on Monday afternoon.

“What an absolutely great weekend for our ladies,” said head coach Jason Hamilton. “To get two conference wins on a weekend is extremely difficult and no one needed it as much as we did.”

After helping the Pirates to a 2-0 weekend, with a 2-1 win over Temple and a 1-0 overtime victory at Houston, McWhirter was named the AAC Rookie of the Week and English was named the AAC Goalkeeper of the Week. McWhirter was named the Rookie of the Week for the second straight week, becoming the first East Carolina player to win a pair of Rookie of the Week honors. It is the first Goalkeeper of the Week this season for English although she has made the honor roll twice, including last week. It is the fourth time in her brief career that English has been named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Week, the most ever by a Pirate keeper.

McWhirter, a native of Magnolia, Texas, was playing her first collegiate game in her home state when the Pirates traveled to Houston. For much of the day, Houston was the team with more of the offensive chances, but deep in the second overtime of a then-scoreless game, a chance finally came for East Carolina. Holly Schlagel swung in a cross and Annabelle Abbott headed it down to McWhirter. McWhirter struck a shot as she was spinning towards the Houston goal and it caught the bottom of the crossbar and bounced in for the game-winning goal. It was the second game-winning goal of the season for McWhirter and her fourth goal overall. She now has three goals in five conference games and she becomes the ninth ECU freshman with at least four goals in their rookie season and the first since 2008.

“What a special goal for Haley on Sunday,” Hamilton said. “She was a very highly recruited player who got a lot of grief for leaving the state of Texas. To go back to your hometown and score a game-winner in overtime is a memory that will last forever.”

While McWhirter put her stamp on the weekend with one spectacular moment, English was steady for East Carolina throughout both games. The Greenville, N.C., native finished the weekend with 12 saves and allowed just one goal. She was especially strong at Houston, with the Cougars coming into the game with the highest-scoring offense in the AAC. English was up to the task though, making eight saves and shutting out Houston. English is now third in the conference in both saves (53) and shutouts (four).

“I thought Maeve had a very good weekend for us,” Hamilton added. “She made the saves that she was supposed to and gave us a chance in both games. When she plays like that, we are hard to beat.”

The Pirates will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Tulsa for the final road trip of the regular season. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m., in Hurricane Stadium.

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