The Emory women’s soccer team started off on the right cleat with a 2-1 win over Georgia Gwinnett College Sept. 1 at the Grizzly Soccer Complex in Lawrenceville, Ga, marking the team’s third consecutive season-opening victory. The Eagles also won in dominant fashion Sept. 4, in a 4-0 landslide against Pfeiffer University (N.C.), bringing their season record to 2-0.
Georgia Gwinnett had multiple shots on goal in the first 16 minutes of the match, but the game’s tone shifted when junior forward Sophia Dillon scored Emory’s first goal of the match and season. Emory’s spirits lifted after Dillon’s goal, but the Eagles were unable to sustain control as both teams struggled to maintain possession.
“The game had a lot of momentum shifts,” Head Coach Sue Patberg said. “We were at them in the first half, got end line a lot … got a bunch of corner kicks and scored an early goal. Then [in] the second half, the momentum shifted and they were really at us.”
Georgia Gwinnett tied the game up when the Grizzlies’ junior forward/midfielder Caitlin Berry scored 18 minutes into the second half. While the Eagles initially appeared to have lost their momentum after Berry’s goal, their attacking players continued to press Gwinnett’s back line.
“The momentum shifted again towards the end of the game, and [we] did really well getting numbers forward and outnumbering them in the final third,” Patberg said.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, junior forward Abbe McCarter broke away from the midfield, dribbling the ball to the edge of the penalty box to make the winning shot against the Grizzlies’ keeper. This not only marks McCarter’s first goal of the season, but also the first game-winning shot of her career.
“For the past two years that I’ve been on the team, we’ve had a lot of ties and we’ve gone into overtime,” McCarter said. “Right after I scored, I remember running up to my teammates being like, ‘This is not going to happen again.’ That was my main thought.”
On Labor Day afternoon, the Eagles maintained their winning streak by defeating Pfeiffer University in a 4-0 shutout.
“We had a lot of really good chances in the first half,” Patberg said. “We probably should have scored three goals in the first half, but we didn’t. In the second half … [we] moved the ball faster, finished our chances well, created more dangerous chances, kept the ball in the final third better than we had. We were just sharper.”
The Eagles ended 2016 with a 9-5-3 ledger, making it Emory’s 28th consecutive winning season. With a 2-0-0 record, the Eagles have positioned themselves well to begin this new season.
The Eagles next opponent will be Johns Hopkins University (Md.).
“It’s especially good that we have two wins under our belts to give us a little bit of confidence for the weekend,” McCarter said. “Johns Hopkins is a really good team, and so I think we’re really excited for the opportunity to play them, excited to be tested because [the Blue Jays] are going to be a really hard opponent for this season.”
Emory will meet with Johns Hopkins Sept, 9, on the road in Raleigh, N.C., before matching up with Meredith College (N.C.) Sept. 10.