Pirates fall in overtime at James Madison

ECU Pirates

Haley McWhirter (ECU Sports Information photo)

HARRISONBURG, VA. – A goal with just 29 seconds remaining in the second overtime was the difference as the East Carolina soccer team fell to James Madison 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.

“We weren’t good enough today, plain and simple,” said Head Soccer Coach Jason Hamilton. “We started the game strong and had some good looks, but at the end of the first half, they were the better team. From that point on, they seemed to outwork us.”

The loss drops ECU to 4-6-0 on the season while James Madison improves to 3-5-1 on the year.

The stats in the first half-painted two different pictures. It was James Madison who held 57% of the possession in the opening 45 minutes and the Dukes outshot the Pirates 9-7. However, it was East Carolina who had the most dangerous chances, with the Pirates taking five shots on goal, three of which came from Haley McWhirter, while also getting blocks on six James Madison shots. However, despite three of those shots coming from inside the James Madison penalty area, ECU could not find the opening goal.

In the second half, the Dukes began to turn their possession into dangerous chances. James Madison took eight shots in the second stanza compared to just two for ECU. Maeve English helped keep the game level as she made three saves. Holly Schlagel and Tori Riggs each had shots on goal in the second half, but the game remained scoreless, sending ECU to overtime for the second straight game.

With just 100 seconds remaining in the first overtime, East Carolina had a golden chance to grab the game-winning goal. A James Madison foul in the penalty area gave ECU a penalty kick. McWhirter stepped up and took a shot that was headed toward the top-right corner of the James Madison goal, but Dukes’ goalkeeper Alexandra Blom was able to get a hand to it and keep it out.

In the second overtime, McWhirter continued on the offensive for the Pirates, taking two shots with Blom making a save on one. But the game-winning goal, unfortunately, came on the other end. With just 29 seconds remaining, Ebony Wiseman found Ariana Reyes at the ECU six-yard box and Reyes scored on a low shot to send the Dukes home victors.

“We keep talking about using these games to grow and get better, but it’s not happening for some,” Hamilton said. “Tight games are a game of inches and ten games in, we need to be able do the details necessary to win games.”

James Madison finished with a 21-14 lead in shots and a 7-3 edge in corner kicks while holding 56% of the possession. Blom made nine saves for the Dukes while English finished with three stops for the Pirates.

“We didn’t learn from last game and I think that is most disappointing,” Hamilton added. “You have to be able to close things out.”

The Pirates will be grateful to return to the friendly confines of Johnson Stadium, where they are 3-1-0 this season as East Carolina’s next game will be a battle against visiting SMU on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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