GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – Three quick goals were too much for the ECU women's soccer team to overcome as the Pirates fell to visiting N.C. State, 5-2, Wednesday night at Johnson Stadium.
“Tonight’s game was a combination of things, they were better than us and we didn’t execute our game plan,” said head coach Jason Hamilton. “Regardless, of who you play, regardless if the opponent is better than you or not, you need to execute your game plan.”
ECU drops to 3-4-1 on the season while the Wolfpack improve to 5-3-0.
It took just four minutes and 22 seconds for NC State to take the lead. Tziarra King broke free on the left side of the ECU box and crossed in front of the goal where Ricarda Walking was able to finish into the back of the net. Just two minutes later, King again found space to whip in a cross, this time it was Paige Griffiths who was there to score.
NC State added a third goal in the 16th minute. A deflected shot by Jameese Joseph reached King at the top of the box and King got a goal of her own by whipping a right footed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.
The Pirates got a lifeline in the 28th minute thanks to a great individual effort from Jenna Dages. Less than two minutes after being introduced into the game, Dages cut past a Wolfpack defender in the NC State box and was brought down, causing the referee to award ECU a penalty kick. Dages stepped up to take the spot kick and although her initial effort was stopped, she finished the job with a volleyed shot, putting the score at 3-1.
Unfortunately for ECU, it did not take long for NC State to once again stretch its advantage. In the 31st minute, King once again turned provider, setting up Leyah Hall-Robinson for a goal.
“The first half we gave them too much respect,” Hamilton said. “We sat too far back and gave them easy looks and a good team is going to take advantage of those looks. I thought we did a much better job in the second half of executing our game plan. We outshot them and we had more corners. If we had come out like that, it would have been a different game.”
King scored her second goal of the day in the 56th minute, this time capitalizing from a feed from Hall-Robinson.
ECU got one goal back in the 63rd minute. Madie Knaggs put an NC State defender under pressure deep in the Wolfpack end and was able to take the ball away. Knaggs then surged forward and slotted a low shot past the Wolfpack goalkeeper.
ECU had the majority of play in the second half, taking eight shots to NC State’s four in the period and taking all three corners in the final 45 minutes, but could not get any closer than 5-2.
The Wolfpack finished with a 20-11 advantage in shots while ECU held a 4-2 edge in corner kicks. Melanie Stiles finished with eight saves for ECU with Jessica Berlin and Eden Millan each making one stop for NC State.
“We have to learn from that because we’re going to see better opponents in our conference,” Hamilton added. “We have to learn not to give our opponents more respect than they deserve and grow from there.”
The game was seen by the biggest home crowd of the year for ECU, as 808 fans filed into Johnson Stadium. It was the fifth-largest crowd since the stadium opened in 2011.
ECU will be on the road for its final non-conference game of the season. The Pirates head to UNCG for a Sunday night kickoff, with the match slated for a 7 p.m. start.