In its first test against a ranked opponent this season, the ECU women’s soccer team battled No. 16 NC State to a 1-1 draw on Thursday night at Dail Soccer Field/Track Complex.
“We are very proud of our group,” said head coach Jason Hamilton. “We’ve talked about the dirty stats a lot this season and we had players sliding to block shots, battling for 50-50 balls and leaving everything on the field.”
Much like their first road game of the season, the Pirates fell behind early in the match as NC State (2-0-1) scored in the 15th minute. Kristina Schuster sent in a low cross from the right wing and Kia Rankin lofted a one-time shot into the net.
ECU tied the score in the 35th minute using a Morgan Dewey corner kick, which is quickly becoming one of the Pirates’ most dangerous weapons. This time Dewey’s cross floated towards the back post where Chentay Warnes was able to get to it first and head it back across the goalmouth. Warnes’ header found Courtney Cash who tucked a header of her own between the diving NC State goalkeeper and the goalpost to tie the game at one. It is the second straight game that the Pirates have been able to score off a set piece along with doing so in both exhibition contests.
Both teams had their chances to take the lead in the second half, but neither could capitalize. Daria Draovitch dragged a shot just wide of the left post in the 77th minute after a ball from Jenna Dages left her one-on-one with the NC State goalkeeper. Two minutes later, Dages had an opportunity of her own, but her header was saved. On the other end, Carsen Parker made a pair of key blocks while Melanie Stiles made three saves in net for ECU.
“We know that we have to be the team that works our opponents to be successful,” Hamilton said. “On the road against a nationally ranked opponent, it was great to see our girls fight back and even create a couple chances later in the game.”
After 90 minutes, the game remained tied and the two teams headed to overtime. In the first period, it looked like NC State had won when Rankin’s shot hit the crossbar and then Paige Griffiths headed in the rebound, but the referee ruled her offside, giving the Pirate new life.
In the second overtime, Tziarra King had a great chance to win the game after an NC State through ball found her running onto goal. But both Jayda Hylton-Pelaia and Kim Sanford recovered to make key interventions and snuff out the threat. Neither team could get any closer after that opportunity and the game finished in a tie.
NC State held a 29-12 edge in shots and took six corners to ECU’s two. Stiles finished with eight saves for ECU, a season-high. Sydney Wootten had a pair of saves for the Wolfpack.
“NC State is an extremely good team and they created a lot of opportunities,” added Hamilton. “Our back line and goalkeeper had their hands full tonight. This game will be great for us to learn from and prepare for AAC play.”
ECU will return home for a Sunday matchup against Davidson. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 pm in Johnson Stadium.