(PN Photo/ Trevon Knight)
On a Saturday where soccer seemed to serve as an opening act for UNCP football’s home opener, Braves soccer stood out in its own right, shutting out Anderson University 4-0.
The 4-0 win was UNCP’s second shutout of the season, three games into the campaign. The team was stout defensively, holding their opponents to just six shots in the first half (recording saves on five of them) and 13 shots in the game overall. The Braves also played a clean game in terms of penalties, as there were none assessed throughout the match.
For as stingy as the team was on defense, they were equally aggressive on offense, scoring a season-high four goals.
Sophomore Alexis Pittman, the team’s leading scorer from a season ago, returned after missing the previous game with an illness and scored the lone goal of the first half. Off the assist from Bree Mason, Pittman struck from the top of the box into the upper left corner of the net to give UNCP a 1-0 lead.
“Alexis is a natural-born goal-scorer. It was a very [Alexis] goal. She was opportunistic, it was a great strike. It was great to see her back on the pitch.” Head coach Lars Andersson said of Pittman’s goal.
As UNCP’s attack ramped up in the second half, the team’s second-leading goal scorer from last season, senior forward Stacey Scott, scored twice on the day.
Scott’s first goal came from close-range off an assist from senior Christine Rolfes that allowed Scott to strike from inside the box.
Rolfes again assisted on Scott’s second goal of the afternoon, a header off the corner from the left side that extended the Braves’ lead to 3-0.
The two goals were Scott’s second and third of the season, respectively. Rolfes notched another assist on the game’s final score, a header into the right side of the net by redshirt junior Carly Rochelle.
Andersson was pleased with his team’s tenacity and attentiveness to detail in the second half that lead to the uptick in goal scoring and the overall dominant performance.
“We tweaked a couple of things. We held onto the ball a little too much in the first half. [in the second half] we came with more numbers. Stacey was fantastic and Christine’s delivery was fantastic as well on the corners. We were very dominant. It’s good to have a team that pays attention to the information they’re given at halftime. I’m really proud of them.” Andersson said.
The team now looks ahead to its matchup with third-ranked Columbus State, who UNCP defeated in the conference championship last season. The Braves however have not won at Columbus State since 2011. For perspective, current assistant coach Brittany Padilla was a player on that team. The matchup was originally scheduled for September 15, but has been postponed due to weather complications from Hurricane Florence.
“I think Columbus State is one of the best teams in the country. I’m sure they haven’t forgotten [the conference championship game]. We haven’t won at their place since 2011, but if you don’t want an opportunity like that, why do you play college soccer? Competitive players want to play in games like that. I look forward to it. It’ll be a tremendous challenge, but we have a full week to prepare and I know my players can’t wait to get going.” Andersson said.