GREENVILLE, N.C. – For the second straight game, the East Carolina soccer team grabbed the game-winning goal late in the match, as the Pirates beat Campbell 1-0 on Thursday night in Johnson Stadium.
“Just a really tough game,” said Head Soccer Coach Jason Hamilton. “All the credit to Campbell, they are a good team. They were organized. I thought their adjustments at halftime were really good and our players struggled with it a little bit. Defensively, we were great. Three shots, none on goal. Can’t lose the game if that happens. I think our team wanted to take pride in this game, in being at home and we haven’t had a shutout in a couple of games.
“We started off the exhibitions with being pretty strong defensively so we wanted to get back into that and so I think our team did an excellent job defensively of making it hard for them to create anything. I don’t think we had a great day offensively. The game was between the boxes a little bit and we were settling for some stuff, some crosses and some shots from distance. But good teams find a way to win so I’m proud of the ladies.”
ECU improves to 3-2-0 on the season while Campbell falls to 1-2-1.
In a match with very few good offensive opportunities, the Pirates had the best chance of the opening half. In the 15th minute, the Pirates launched a ball into the Campbell box. As the ball bounced around, it fell to Taylor Kibble. Unfortunately for ECU, Kibble’s effort was smothered by Campbell goalkeeper Reaghan Duval. For the remainder of the first stanza, Samantha Moxie and Alexia Moore both took long-range shots that Duval made stops on while Campbell could only muster a pair of shots that missed the Pirate goal.
Coming out of the locker room for the second half, ECU nearly took the lead in the 57th minute. Haley McWhirter found space just outside the Campbell penalty area and lined up a shot with her right foot. The effort had Duval beat, but dragged just outside of the left goalpost for a Campbell goal kick.
After McWhirter’s effort, neither team could create any meaningful looks on goal for the next 20 minutes. That finally changed in the 77th minute. A Campbell foul on Holly Schlagel gave East Carolina a free kick on the right side. Morgan Dewey swung in the spot kick towards the back post. The ball bounced around with Abby Sowa trying to turn it towards the goal. Sowa could not get much power on her attempt, but she did enough to get it to Kim Sanford who did the rest by knocking the ball off a Camel defender and into the goal. Sanford is the ninth goal scorer of the season for East Carolina as no Pirate has scored multiple goals yet this year.
“It’s important that you don’t have everything relying on one player,” Hamilton added. “It would be great to have a 10- or 15-goal scorer but that’s just not what we have here. If you look back at our first year here as a staff, we had nobody that had more than three goals, but we had 11 different people score. When people can step up in ways like that and have different people get on the end of things, you’re going to be able to win games. Just really proud of the ladies with two really good games strung together in a row and we’re going to get ready for Sunday.”
After Sanford’s opening goal, the Pirates looked to double their lead and Sanford nearly scored again in the 86th minute. Off a Pirate corner kick, McWhirter’s cross reached Sanford alone in the Camel box, but her header was saved by Duval. On the other end, the Pirate defense never allowed Campbell to take a shot after Sanford’s goal, running out the clock for the second shutout of the season.
ECU finished with a 12-3 edge in shots, including 5-0 in terms of shots on goal. The Pirates also had a 5-3 edge in corner kicks and held 62% of the game’s possession. Reaghan Duval had four stops for the Camels while Maeve English was not called on for any stops for the Pirates.
The Pirates will be back home on Sunday afternoon as they host VCU. That match will kickoff at 1:05 p.m., and will be broadcast on ESPN+.