Pirates stun No. 23 Memphis 2-1 on Senior Day

ECU Pirates

(ECU Sports Information photo)

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – A pair of goals in the final 22 minutes helped the East Carolina soccer team stun No. 23 Memphis 2-1 on Sunday afternoon in Johnson Stadium.

East Carolina finishes the regular season with an 8-8-2 overall record and a 3-3-2 AAC mark. Memphis is now 10-4-1 overall with a 4-3-0 league mark. The victory is the first over a ranked opponent since Hamilton took over prior to the 2018 season.

The opening half was tightly contested, with Memphis holding a slight 10-9 edge in shots while the Pirates held 54% of the possession. But it was only Memphis that got on the scoreboard. The goal came in the 24th minute with Jocelyn Alonzo getting free down the left wing for Memphis. Alonzo swung in a cross that found Mya Jones on the far post, with Jones slipping a shot just inside that goalpost.

Trailing 1-0 heading into the second half, East Carolina’s outlook looked bleak as Memphis had the Pirates pinned back in its own half of the field. The Tigers peppered the East Carolina goal with ten shots in the opening 20 minutes of the second stanza, with East Carolina goalkeeper Maeve English called on for a pair of saves to keep the Pirates within a goal.

Despite the Memphis pressure, the game changed in an instant in the 67th minute. As the Pirates cycled the ball around its backline, it reached Abby Sowa at right back and Sowa saw space in front of her to drive forward. Sowa crossed the halfway line and picked up her head to see Haley McWhirter racing into the Memphis box. Sowa played a curling ball towards McWhirter, but it was just too far for McWhirter to get a foot on. However, it fell perfectly to Annabelle Abbott who was racing in behind McWhirter and Abbott was able to slip a shot in between the goalpost and a diving Memphis goalkeeper to tie the match.

With the game deadlocked, the result hinged on the next goal. In the 87th minute, the chance came for the Pirates. Alexia Moore won the ball deep in the Tigers half of the field and she was able to shuttle it out to the left wing where Samantha Moxie had room to operate. Moxie took her time and got the ball onto her left foot before swinging a cross into the box. Moxie’s cross was perfect as it found a waiting Haley McWhirter. McWhirter headed back across goal and squeezed her effort just inside the upper left corner of the Tiger goal to set off a Pirate celebration.

Memphis finished with a 23-13 edge in shots, but it was just 8-7 in shots on goal. Both teams took four corner kicks in the game while East Carolina held 54% of the possession. English finished with seven stops for the Pirates while Elizabeth Moberg made five stops for the Tigers.

East Carolina will now await its playoff fate with a loss or draw by Cincinnati or a loss by UCF clinching a postseason berth for the Pirates. The opening round of the AAC Championship will be on Sunday, Oct. 31.

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