ECU women's soccer blanks Temple, 1-0

GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – In a pivotal conference match, the ECU women’s soccer team turned in one of its strongest efforts of the season to beat Temple 1-0 on Sunday afternoon in Johnson Stadium.

Neither team could get much offense going in the first 35 minutes of the game, but the match opened up in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Temple nearly took the lead in the 35th minute when Natalie Druehl rocketed a free kick off the ECU crossbar.

In the 40th minute, the Pirates appeared to take the lead, when Erin Mikalsen directed a header to Courtney Cash, who scored on a header of her own. But Cash was ruled offsides, thus negating the scoring chance. Temple responded with just over a minute remaining in the first stanza, as Emma Wilkins found herself deep in the ECU box and lined up a shot. Luckily for the Pirates, Morgan Dewey was there to slide in front of the shot and block the effort, ensuring the game remained scoreless at the break.

“We’re very pleased with the effort from the girls tonight.” Said head coach Jason Hamilton. “They did a really good job battling. The first half, we didn’t have as much energy as we wanted. First and second balls were a little bit close. So we talked about having to win first balls and having to play win second balls and just playing with a little bit more urgency in the things that we do.”

After the teams traded shots on goal to open the second half, the Pirates broke through in the 53rd minute. The ball was passed backwards to Morgan Dewey on the left side of the field and she launched a high cross towards the back post of the Temple goal. As most of the players turned to watch the flight of the cross, Tori Riggs surged forward and met the ball with a one-time shot that was too much for Temple goalkeeper Morgan Basileo to handle. Riggs’ goal was the eighth time this season that ECU has scored within the first 10 minutes of either the first or second half.

“I thought the second half, the effort showed,” Hamilton said. “We outshot them 7-3 in the second half. We didn’t pass up opportunities to serve balls into the box, which is something we talked about before the game that we didn’t do in the first half. Tori scored a fantastic goal and it was a great ball from Morgan. But that’s what we told them would work. Serve balls into the box and make sure we’re making the runs in there.”

While playing with their 1-0 lead, ECU was able to limit Temple’s chances to tie the score. The Owls finished with just three shots in the second period, after taking seven in the first 45 minutes. Temple thought it had tied the score in the 61st minute when an Owl tapped the ball into the ECU goal. But the assistant referee had raised his flag to signal offside and the goal was disallowed. After one final Temple corner kick in the 90th minute resulted in an ECU goal kick, the final whistle blew to preserve the 1-0 win.

ECU finished with a 12-10 advantage in shots while Temple had a 6-3 edge in corner kicks. Melanie Stiles made three saves in goal for ECU, giving her four shutouts this season. Basileo finished with six stops for the Owls.

“To get a shutout in conference is tough because every game is a battle,” Hamilton added. “So we’re really proud of how the girls fought until the end and held off to the end and put ourselves in a good position going forward.”

ECU will have a weekend off from competition before returning to action against Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 26 in Johnson Stadium. The match will be Senior Day for the Pirates, as the four seniors will be honored.