Pirates pick up road win by dropping UCF in OT

Sports
Jason Hamilton ECU Women's soccer_1535078870865.jpg.jpg

Trailing with less than 15 minutes remaining, the ECU women’s soccer team scored a pair of goals to stun UCF 2-1 on Thursday night in the UCF Soccer Complex.

The first half was a defensive struggle as the teams combined for just one shot on goal and only seven shots overall. Unfortunately for ECU (7-4-2, 2-3-0), UCF was able to convert that one shot on goal in the 25th minute. A miscommunication in the ECU defense allowed Stefani Sanders to intercept a pass intended for a Pirate player. Wasting no time, Sanders launched a one-time shot over a retreating Melanie Stiles and into the ECU goal.

In the second half, the game opened up as the Pirates tried to tie the score and the Knights looking to put the game away. The majority of the chances belonged to UCF (5-4-1, 2-1-0), as the Knights took 13 shots in the second half, compared to ECU’s four.

As the second half went on, ECU became more and more threatening. First, Grace Doran forced UCF’s goalkeeper, Vera Varis, into a save in the 69th minute before Varis denied Jenna Dages in the 72nd minute. With the momentum shifting, ECU earned a free kick deep in the UCF end. Morgan Dewey swung in a free kick from the right side and Madie Knaggs used a diving effort to direct her header past Varis and into the UCF goal. It was the second straight game Knaggs had gotten onto the scoresheet after going scoreless in her first 18 games.

Both teams had chances to take the lead in regulation. UCF had three shots come close, with one hitting the post in the 77th minute and Stiles making a pair of stops in the 78th and 80th minutes.  The Pirates had a chance to take their first lead in 84th minute, but Tori Riggs could not get enough power on her shot to beat Varis.

For the third time in four games, ECU required overtime to decide the game. Unlike the past two extra periods though, the Pirates struck first. Less than a minute into overtime, Dewey used her left foot to swing a cross towards the back post. Both Riggs and Dages were at the back post waiting for the cross and the ball reached Riggs. She trapped the ball down to Dages who quickly took a one-time shot that found the back of the net for the game-winning goal.

UCF finished with a 19-6 edge in shots and a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks. Stiles made four saves while Varis made three stops. With the win, ECU now has seven wins, the most since going 8-10-2 in 2015. It is also the first time ECU has beaten UCF on the road, having been 0-6-1 in Orlando prior to Thursday.

The Pirates play one final road game of the regular season, traveling to USF for a Sunday afternoon match. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m., in Corbett Stadium. 

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