Pirates Draw 883 Fans, Set New Stadium Attendance Record In Season Opener
GREENVILLE, NC August 22, 2014 – In front of a record crowd of 883 fans, the East Carolina women’s soccer team fell victim to a pair of set-piece goals as 14th-ranked South Carolina picked up a 2-0 victory on Friday evening at Johnson Stadium.
The final attendance number tops the 853 total from the stadiums inaugural game on Aug. 19, 2011 against the Gamecocks.
“South Carolina is a very good team and they made us work defensively,” head coach Rob Donnenwirth said after the game. “I thought we played a little nervous at times and our touches were not good. They also make you do things very quickly and we have to get better at that. I thought our back line played well and Saundra (Baron) made some good saves.”
The first half got opened with physical play from both sides as they attempted to establish possession in the middle of the field. In the eighth minute, Pirate goalkeeper Saundra Baron got a piece of a hard shot by Gamecocks striker Savannah McCaskill that grazed the crossbar and dangerously close to the goal line before being gathered by Baron to keep the score even.
ECU (0-1) successfully cleared three South Carolina corner kick opportunities through the first 45 minutes to keep the game scoreless, despite being outshot, 3-0.
The Gamecocks did not waste their first scoring chance in the second half, as Andie Romness lifted a low-lining ball from a set piece approximately 30 yards from the net and into the heart of the East Carolina goal box where Taylor Leach headed home the game’s first goal in the 50th minute.
The Pirates secured their first and only corner kick of the evening in the 62nd minute, as senior defender Kelly Miller struck a near-perfect ball towards the far post, but South Carolina (1-0) goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo snagged the scoring attempt out of the air.
Just seven minutes later, Leach executed her second goal via the header off a corner kick to put the Gamecocks ahead, 2-0.
ECU put together another great scoring chance in the 78t minute after sophomore forward Lana Spitler ran around several South Carolina midfielders and placed a ball right onto the foot of freshman forward Courtney Taybron deep in the opposing goal box, but D’Angelo was there to smother the shot.
Junior striker Kendall Frey also just missed putting East Carolina on the board with a header in the 85th minute, but USC held on for the 2-0 triumph.
“Early in the year, set-pieces are a bit of a concern because we don’t have as much time to work on that as we like,” Donnenwirth said. “Now we just need to get our bodies rested because we have a big game on Sunday.”
South Carolina outshot ECU, 8-2, and held a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks on the night, while Baron and D’Angelo each made two saves.
The Pirates will open the first of three-straight road games when they head to Cullowhee, N.C., and take on Western Carolina on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m.