Sophomore Kennedy Garrett pushes past Mars Hill’s Aerial Ellis at Greenwood Field last Wednesday.
Photograph by Jorja Smith – Photography Editor
By A.V. Sherk
UNC Asheville women’s soccer team defeated Mars Hill in overtime this past Wednesday.
Both the Bulldogs and Mountain Lions had trouble finding the back of the net during regulation. However, sophomore midfielder Shenny Lenhart scored the winning goal less than a minute into overtime.
“It was a great play,” Coach Demko said. “The ball was played wide to Megan Foster. Shenny was playing center forward when she came across the field. Megan played a through ball in behind the defense, and their goalkeeper had no choice but to come out. Shenny was just there first. She kinda nicked it behind the keeper and then into the back of the net.”
It was Lenhart’s second goal of the season. According to Lenhart, it was the support of her team on the field and coaching staff that made it happen.
“When I saw Megan play the ball over and I heard Coach yell, ‘Forwards cross,’ I just got it in my head that I was going to make the run,” Lenhart said. “When I got to the goal and saw the keeper coming out, I knew that she had already committed. The only way to beat her would be to take a touch around her. When I actually shot the ball, there was this split second in my mind where I thought that it was going to bounce off the post, but the fact that it went in, an inch away from going out of the goal, was just so nerve-wracking.”
Kennedy Garrett, a sophomore forward for UNCA, agrees that a win doesn’t just come from the players on the field.
“What really comes in play is our players on the bench, they’re really supportive,” Garrett said. “It’s not just the people on field. It involves the fans, it involves the players on the bench and the coaches. All of that comes into the middle of the field and we all just pick each other up and our communication worked really well in the second half. It’s great to have fans always cheering you on.”
The Bulldogs had just come off a loss at Chattanooga three days prior, which brought their record to 3-3-0. The loss had been described as a fluke by Lenhart. During the first half, the Bulldogs’ pace was slow but UNCA pulled together as the time clock elapsed.
“I think that in the second half we really came out strong,” Garrett said. “We really started connecting through the midfield to go out wide. That’s when we started to get forward and really get chances in the box. At halftime we got a really big confidence boost and just really laid into each other.”
With only five minutes left in regulation, the score was still tied 0-0. A 30-minute rain delay gave the Bulldogs’ a chance to regroup.
“Well, we thought the rain delay was going to be a problem,” Lenhart said. “But all of us came together. We realized we had to use it as more of a permanent thing than a negative. So in the locker room before we came we were dancing and singing and getting really excited. Then when we came out we just knew what we had to do.”
Coach Demko and Assistant Coach Joey Sasvari provided the integral support the women’s team needed to find their footing late in the game.
“Coach really prepared us by saying that she had faith in us, and knew what we could do and that she knew our potential. We just had to start buying into it ourselves,” Lenhart said. “Coach came in at halftime and kind of let us know what we needed to do and that she had confidence in us. It was really our assistant coach, Joey who came in at halftime and told us that he believed in us and that we needed to be inspiring. The way we were playing wasn’t inspiring and we needed to bring passion. Hearing him get so passionate about the game really instilled it in ourselves, we realized we could do so much more than what we were doing.”
As the Bulldogs gain confidence, some players switch positions on the field and utilize their versatility.
“I’m one of the players that plays anywhere,” Garrett said. “I’m very versatile and I like that because I get to experience playing with each different line and each different player. I started at forward, and I really like checking in, getting the ball and creating chances. The final third, that’s when everyone’s really excited, it’s a really exciting moment for me to create chances and try to shoot and score.”
Both Garrett and Lenhart can play nearly anywhere on the field, and the chemistry they create with their teammates raises the Bulldogs’ level of play.
“I play midfield and defense and I just started playing forward last game,” Lenhart said. “It’s exciting, I like forward the best. Midfield is awesome because I get to have the ball a lot, and I can change the point of attack . But something about being on top and being close to the goal and being able to just turn and take defenders on and shoot and score is just really appealing to me.”