With big wins against Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) and the University of Lynchburg (Va.), the Emory University women’s soccer team extended its win streak to three games and improved its regular season record to 4-2-0. The Eagles defeated the Sewanee Tigers 5-0 on Sept. 16 before traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina on Sept. 18 to hand the Lynchburg Hornets their first loss of the season by a score of 3-1.
The Eagles began the weekend in dominant fashion against the Tigers, outshooting their opponent 10-2 in the first half and forcing Sewanee junior goalie Leah Atkins to make six saves. Despite the constant offensive pressure, the Eagles struggled to score the break-through goal their dominance merited.
Head coach Sue Patberg remained confident the team would overcome the Sewanee defense.
“I think we are finding our way in each game,” Patberg said. “Each opponent is playing us a bit differently, so we’ve got to figure out how to break them down and where we might find some deficiencies in their defense.”
The deadlock was finally broken in the 30th minute when senior defender and midfielder LJ Kolodge scored off senior forward Kylie Hall’s deep corner. As a more defensive-focused player, Kolodge was pleased to help the team out by scoring the first goal of the game.
“You really get to set the pace of the game [by scoring first],” Kolodge said. “Scoring on the set pieces, which isn’t the normal game flow, is going to help us with time.”
The Eagles certainly carried that momentum into the second half. Senior forward Aubrey Blanchard scored in the 62nd minute, poking a rebound from junior midfielder Grace Reyer’s saved shot attempt past the Sewanee sophomore goalie Abby Jones. Blanchard got her second goal of the night minutes later, confidently connecting on an excellent cross from graduate midfielder Mara Rodriguez. A pair of late goals from senior forwards Natalie Klar and Riley Brackin added the final touches to a triumphant 5-0 score line.
Patberg said she was most proud of the team’s ability to maintain a high standard the entire game.
“I love that when we went deeper into our team [roster] that we still produced goals,” Patberg said. “I think that’s really a testament to the players.”
After celebrating the Sewanee win, the team’s focus switched to the Eagles’ game against the undefeated Lynchburg Hornets, a matchup which Patberg called “an out-of-conference rivalry.”
Despite the high stakes, the Eagles opened up the scoring much quicker this time around. Hall found Kolodge with a ball over the top of the Hornet’s defense in the 14th minute. Unlike the game against the Tigers, the Hornets responded to the Eagles’ opening goal, equalizing after a late first half penalty was called on Eagles graduate defender Ciannah Correa.
Both Patberg and Kolodge were disappointed to concede what Patberg called a “fluke” of a goal.
“There’s not much you can do [about the penalty],” Kolodge said. “At halftime when we talked, we knew we had controlled the game, and if we kept fighting and winning those 50-50 balls it was going to come for us.”
The Eagles’ fight was key to overcoming the Hornets’ strong defensive display. The Eagles remained calm and persistent in the second half, re-establishing the lead in the 69th minute when Reyer finished off a clever flick into the box from Rodriguez. Minutes later, Hall found Kolodge for the second time in the game with another excellent set piece delivery to extend the lead by two goals.
Although she was pleased with the win, Patberg said that she hopes the team can improve its defensive shape and recognize tactical changes earlier in the game going forward.
“I think we’re learning lessons, literally, by the minute,” Patberg said. “Every week is an opportunity to learn and get better and look for opportunities to minimize mistakes.”
The Eagles’ next game is at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, when they take on Maryville College (Tenn.) at home.