McWhirter’s goal helps ECU top Houston, 1-0

ECU Pirates

Haley McWhirter (ECU Sports Information photo)

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HOUSTON – Despite being on the back foot for much of the game, the East Carolina soccer snatched a 1-0 double-overtime win at Houston on Sunday afternoon.

East Carolina improves to 7-7-1 overall and 2-2-1 in AAC play while Houston drops to 10-3-2 with a 2-1-1 league record. The Pirates have now won three straight games for the second time this season and is unbeaten in four straight games.

The first half was even in terms of possession, but Houston had the majority of the offensive chances. The Cougars outshot the Pirates 7-2 in the opening 45 minutes, including 3-1 in shots on target. But the East Carolina defense limited how dangerous those shots were. The best chance for Houston came in the 41st minute when Natalie Anderson looked like she was teed up for a shot from point-blank range, but Kim Sanford was there to block the attempt.

In the second 45 minutes, the Cougars began to gain control of the game, outshooting East Carolina 11-2. The Pirates stayed in the game thanks to the play of the defense and goalkeeper Maeve English. English made four stops in the second half while the ECU defense blocked a pair of attempts. On the other end, the best ECU chance came when a ball over the top found Kylie Alvarez charging into the Houston box, but she pulled her attempt just wide of the goalpost.

The first overtime continued the momentum from the second half as Houston tried to grab the game-winning goal. English was called on for another save while one Cougar shot went over the crossbar.

In the second overtime, the Pirates finally got a good look at the Cougar goal and they took advantage of it. In the 103rd minute, Holly Schlagel found space on the right wing and swung a cross into the Houston box. Annabelle Abbott jumped up to win it and her header reached Haley McWhirter at the edge of the six-yard box. McWhirter let loose a spinning shot that clipped the bottom of the crossbar and bounced into the goal. It is the team-high fourth goal of the season for McWhirter and the third time she has scored in five AAC games.

Houston held a 20-5 edge in shots, including 8-2 in shots on goal, and a 3-0 lead in corner kicks while holding 57% of the game’s possession. English finished with eight saves for the Pirates while Mikaela Garcia made one save for the Cougars.

East Carolina will have a week off before returning to action with a trip to Tulsa on Oct. 17.

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