by Stephen Case – Staff Writer – firstname.lastname@example.org
The UNC Asheville women’s soccer team ended an up and down week of play Sunday with a loss to Albany at Greenwood Field.
“After the Greensboro game, we focused on the Upstate game and how we needed a win,” Head Coach Michelle Demko said. “There was no other way around that.”
The Bulldogs earned their first win on Thursday against USC Upstate, 5-1.
Freshman Paige Trent led the way with three goals and an assist.
“This game was important because it really helped to set the tone for the rest of the season,” Trent said after the win.
UNCA led 3-0 at halftime. They built their lead on the feet of Trent and Kaitlyn Eckert, who also scored in the first half.
Trent achieved a hat trick when she scored in minute 53 to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead.
“She has a really high work ethic,” Demko said of Trent. “She’s so dangerous, and has a really good strike on the ball. She is really good about creating space for herself. She has already changed as a player just being here since Aug. 4.”
Demko said this is only the second time the girls have scored five goals in a game since she has been at UNCA, with the first against Charleston Southern.
The hat trick by Trent was the first by a Bulldog freshman since the 2005 season when Robyn Busha did it against South Carolina State, according to the athletics department website.
The Bulldogs outshot USC Upstate on goal 22-8.
Although Albany picked up the win 6-3 on Sunday afternoon, the Bulldogs know they are a better team than the score reflected, Demko said.
“I think this was our worst soccer of the season,” Demko said about the first half against Albany. “We were trying to dig out of 45 minutes of bad soccer.”
Halftime saw the score tied at 1, but Albany outscored Asheville 5-2 in the second half.
“We kind of broke down in the back. I don’t think they were better than us,” said freshman Melanie Cusi.
Although the score was tied 1-1 at halftime, the girls were not happy with their first half play.
“The first half seemed really lackadaisical compared to the second half,” freshman Shenny Lenhart said. “We were just coming off a really big high of beating USC Upstate 5-1. I think we kind of just expected that it would be a lot easier than it was.”
After halftime, Albany came out firing quickly, scoring in minute 53 to take a 2-1 advantage. UNCA followed it up with a goal of their own, when Eckert took a pass from Kristen Phelps and scored in the minute 56 to tie the game, 2-2.
Albany started to add to the lead, with goals in the minute 67, 71 and 77.
Shenny Lenhart gave the bulldogs their third goal on the day in minute 90.
Albany and UNCA each had 20 shots on goal, but UNCA’s shots just did not go in the goal like their opponents’ shots did.
Albany’s players continued to get behind the wall of defenders in the second half, Demko said.
“Our second coverage defender was too late stepping over,” said Demko. “It was too easy for us to get out of shape just off the dribble. I think, technically, that is what we need to sort out for the next game.”
The Bulldogs are now 1-4 on the season. They will travel to Furman on Thursday night, and then come home to take on Wofford Sunday afternoon at Greenwood Field.