GREENVILLE, NC (ECU ATHLETICS) - After trailing at halftime, the ECU women's soccer team used a pair of second half goals to defeat Davidson 2-1 on Sunday afternoon in Johnson Stadium.
Even though the first half was mostly controlled by the Pirates, as ECU outshot Davidson 8-3 in the period, it was the Wildcats who went into the break with the lead. Davidson opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Perry Zollicoffer's corner kick reached Alexis Pheng on the far post and Pheng directed her header into the goal.
"Not the ideal start for us," said head coach Jason Hamilton. "We knew it was going to be hard, Sundays are always hard. After you have a big result like we did Thursday, it's hard to get up for that next game. I see it every year in every sport, where someone goes out and competes against a nationally ranked opponent and then the next game they really struggle. The first half we just did not play well whatsoever and we didn't do a good job executing our game plan. Kudos to our girls because at halftime, we gave them a new game plan and they executed extremely well. I think that's what makes good teams, adjusting to the game. We've really preached adjusting to the game and I think that's what been allowing us to get back in these games. At halftime, we get a break and we get to talk about it and then they do a better job in the second half. We know that any team can beat us if they outwork us and they outworked us in the first half, but we outworked them in the second half."
In the second half, ECU upped the offensive pressure as they tried to get back into the game. The first goal eventually came from an unlikely source. Kim Sanford, normally a center back, was moved into a forward role early in the second half and it paid dividends when the sophomore pounced on a loose ball in the Davidson box and lashed a one-time shot into the back of the net to tie the game.
"When people come on the field, we want them to impact the game," Hamilton said. "Kim's been the starting center back for every game since she's been here, but we wanted to play a little more direct, being down a goal. So we put a naturally left footed player in the center back so that left Kim out of the lineup initially. Knowing how good of an athlete she is and how bad she wants it, we decided to throw her up top to see if she could make a play and obviously she made two big plays. That's what we want and that's how we're going to have success, when unexpected players step up and make plays for us."
Seven minutes later, Sanford helped ECU take the lead. Off a Davidson goal kick, Sanford won a header and directed it back towards the Wildcat goal. The first player to the ball was Jenna Dages and she broke in behind the Davidson defense for a breakaway. With the goalkeeper rushing at her, Dages was able to keep her cool and slot the ball past the goalie and in for the eventual game-winning goal.
ECU finished with a 21-5 edge in shots and a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks. Melanie Stiles made one save for ECU in goal while Sarah L'Hommedieu had five stops for Davidson. The Pirates are now 2-0 at home this season.
"Greenville has such a great soccer community and they've really rallied behind us," added Hamilton. "I hope we can continue to win games because when you're winning, a lot more people come out. With this attendance, on a Sunday, it's really exciting to see all these people come out and support us. We're excited to play in front of our fans."
ECU will next travel to Richmond for a match on Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.