Junior Katy Ryan scored her first career goal against Chowan.
The UNCP women’s soccer team and the reigning Peach Belt Conference champions kicked off their season with a 1-0 win at Lumbee River EMC Stadium on Aug. 30 over the visiting Hawks of Chowan University.
At the onset of the match the temperature was in the mid 90s but with the humidity, it felt as if it was over 100 degrees and it showed as the game went on. There were multiple players that experienced muscle cramps and suffered from fatigue in the second half of play.
“I think we were definitely fatigued a little bit, the heat making us tired. Definitely want to try to make the ball do all of the work instead of running after everything and chasing,” said junior defender Katy Ryan. “We wanted to keep a calm game and try to keep control of possession and everything and not let the heat affect us as much.”
The lone goal of the game came in the 29th minute on a successful corner kick from Ryan herself, in which the ball first bounced off the fingertips of the goal and then off of the crossbar before it ricocheted into the net. The goal was not only the single score of the game and the first of the season, but it was also the very first of Ryan’s career.
“When I hit it, I wasn’t really thinking anything much of it. I thought it was just going to sail in and we were probably going to get a head on it and then it kind of had a curl and started going in towards the goal and I was like maybe this might be something and I saw it slip through the keeper’s hand,” said Ryan. “It kind of didn’t hit me or realize that it went in at first and then everyone starts running towards me, so it was happy, and I liked it.”
Even though the Braves only managed to score a single goal, it was not from lack of attempts or opportunity as the Black and Gold were particularly aggressive in the first half. The Lady Braves outshot the Hawks 10-1 in the opening half and would ultimately finish with a 17-6 shooting margin over the course of the match.
The home team had a total of five players attempt multiple shots and last year’s leading scorer, senior Stacey Scott led the team with four attempts.
“I’m not obviously disappointed in result but I am somewhat disappointed in the performance, but again this is a win/lose driven industry and we won the game so ultimately we achieved what we’re here to do and that was to start the season 1-0,” Head Coach Lars Andersson said.
It was a true battle of the birds in the smoldering heat with five yellow cards being issued in the second half, three of which were attributed to members of the Black and Gold. Ryan’s twin sister and the Braves stalwart, Gina Ryan once again held her own and proved to be an impenetrable wall by keeping the visitors scoreless.
“Some players handle the heat better than others and I think there were some players that clearly were affected by the heat and they struggled out there, but you play college soccer in the southeast,” said Andersson. “This is the norm for the first what…four or five weeks and then it cools off so again, those are just part of the elements that you have to accept and deal with.”
Credits: Photo by Trevon Knight, Sports Photo Editor