GREENVILLE, N.C. - Senior Chrissy Gratz scored her sixth goal of the season in the first overtime period Thursday night giving the East Carolina women’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Marshall in Conference USA action at the ECU Soccer Stadium. With the win, the Pirates close out the regular season with a 10-6-3 overall record and 6-2-3 ledger in league play securing the fourth seed at the upcoming 2012 C-USA Soccer Championships.
After 90 scoreless minutes, ECU posted three shots on goal during extra time before Gratz sent the game-winner to the left side of the box in the 94th minute past Marshall keeper Lindsey Kerns giving ECU their first win in overtime this year. Gratz, who received a pass from fellow senior Caty Butler, beat two defenders and sent a shot towards the left post just inside the box for her sixth career game-winning strike and third of the season. Butler picked up her eight career assist and third of the year.
”It was huge to get the win especially on Senior Night,” said ECU Head Coach Rob Donnenwirth. “We had an up and down night against a solid Marshall team and it was just grind for both teams. I think at times we were looking forward to all the festivities after the game and just didn’t have 100 percent focus. But the team came through with great effort in the overtime period and pulled out the win.”
Gratz and the Pirates had a couple of opportunities to put the game away in regulation hitting the cross bar twice. In the 47th minute, Gratz fired a shot that hit off the cross bar and the ball rolled into the net during a put back, but a Pirate fall negated the goal. In all, the Sunrise, Fla. native posted seven shots, six on goal before finally finding the back of the net.
Fellow classmate Christiane Cordero was stellar one again in goal stopping five shots and recorded her league-leading 10 shutout of the season, which tied former Pirate keeper Amber Campbell for the most clean sheets in a season.
Both teams recorded 17 shots on the night with the Pirates putting eight on goal and The Herd posting just five. Marshall closed out their season 7-11-1 overall and 3-7-1 in league play.
Marshall’s Kelly Culicerto and Erin Simmons each had five shots in the contest with Culicerto posting a team-best three on goal. Kerns recorded seven saves on the night pushing her season total to 84.
Following the Pirates win, their sixth at home, ECU honored nine seniors (Brittany Batts, Butler, Cordero, Rachel Fuller, Gratz, Maddie Maurer, Hali Oughton, Katlin Povich and Rachel Wechsler) for their contributions on and off the field.
ECU will now wait until the weekend to find out who it will play in the upcoming C-USA Championships, which will be held in El Paso, Texas starting Wednesday, Oct. 31.