In one of its toughest games of the non-conference season, the ECU women’s soccer team played its best game of the year to dominate Charlotte 3-0 on Sunday afternoon in Johnson Stadium.
“That is by far the best game we’ve played this season,” said head coach Jason Hamilton. “Charlotte is a very good team, a very athletic team. I’m super proud of our girls. We’ve been telling them, this is a team that’s going to help us to prepare for conference play. We doubled them up in shots and our girls brought a lot of energy.”
For the second straight game, ECU looked to attack from the opening kickoff. The pressure paid off with ECU scoring in the 11th minute. A Pirate cross came in from the left side and Jenna Dages rose to flick a header towards the far post. Although Charlotte’s goalkeeper Abby Stapleton was able to stop Dages’ shot, she could not prevent it from rebounding to Tori Riggs who slammed the ball home.
Courtney Cash scored a pair of goals on either side of the halftime whistle in order to separate the Pirates from the 49ers. First, in the 39th minute, Daria Draovitch crossed in from the right side and Cash was first to it. The senior forward did not waste any time taking a settling touch, instead choosing to take a one-time shot that was too much for Stapleton to keep out of the Charlotte goal.
Less than thirty seconds into the second half, Cash added her second goal of the game. Jayda Hylton-Pelaia found space on the right wing and sent in a cross. Once again, Cash was the first to reach it and she was able to score with a simple tap-in.
With the three-goal cushion, ECU was able to use its depth on a hot day, as 20 Pirates made an appearance. The Pirates used that depth to make sure that Charlotte never got back into the game and closed out the shutout victory.
ECU finished with a 20-10 advantage in shots while Charlotte led 6-3 in corner kicks. Melanie Stiles made three saves for her second shutout in a row and third of the season. Stapleton finished with six stops for Charlotte.
“It’s a fantastic weekend to give up no goals,” Hamilton said. “As well as to score three goals on a Sunday, I thought the energy we brought was spectacular. This is a good place for our team to be right now. We’ve got one game left before we go into conference play. We’re excited with a one-game week coming up at Wilmington. We’ll be able to get some much needed rest before conference play. I’m proud of the ladies and how they played today.”
The Pirates have one last non-conference game left on the schedule. That match is a date with UNC Wilmington on Thursday evening. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., in UNCW Soccer Stadium.