by: Stephen Case – Staff Writer – firstname.lastname@example.org
The UNC Asheville women’s soccer team dropped their fifth conference game in a row with losses to Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern this past week.
“We need to be stronger mentally,” Head Coach Michelle Demko said of the losing streak. “We score goals and take the lead on teams, but when they get a goal to tie the game, we crumble and let in more goals.”
The Bulldogs lost to Coastal Carolina at home last Thursday, 2-1.
UNCA took the early lead on the Chanticleers by getting on the board in the first minute of play when Kaitlyn Eckert received a pass from Paige Trent from about 10 yards out and put the ball into the back of the net.
This was Eckert’s fourth straight game with a goal, and her team-leading eighth goal of the season.
UNCA held onto the lead through halftime, until Coastal Carolina’s Kacey Kelly scored from about 20 yards out in minute 62 to tie the game 1-1.
Four minutes later, the Chanticleers were able to break the tie by sending the ball off the crossbar and past UNCA goalkeeper Heather Muller to take a 2-1 advantage. The Bulldogs could not get the lead back in the remaining 20 minutes.
“We’re going to need to communicate more,” freshman Shenny Lenhart said. “Most of the goals scored against us are because of silly mistakes that can easily be prevented. They are not really great goals. That is what is so frustrating.”
Lenhart said the other teams do not have to earn the goals they do score, and that’s the biggest part of UNCA’s play that needs to be worked on.
After the loss to Coastal Carolina, the Bulldogs traveled to Charleston Southern for a Saturday morning matchup.
The Bulldogs defeated the Lady Bucs at Greenwood Field last season, but have not won at CSU since 2006. That did not change.
Toni Lashley scored three goals to lead the Lady Bucs past UNCA with a 5-2 victory.
Despite outshooting the Buccaneers 32-25, UNCA could not seem to find back of the net.
For the fifth consecutive game, UNCA scored on their opponent first. Amanda Knapp sent a pass to Kennedy Garrett for the first goal of the day. CSU responded by scoring three of their own before the half.
Knapp cut into the deficit by scoring in minute 53, but it was not enough.
The Bulldogs dominated the second half as they out-shot the Lady Bucs 18-9 and forced CSU goalkeeper Caitlyn Cody to make seven saves.
Demko said she sees the improvement. The numbers do not lie.
“We have scored 29 goals already this season, with three games left on the schedule,” Demko said. “Last year we scored 27 total goals, so we are dangerous in the attack, but we need to be better about defending our goal. You cannot be second in goals scored, and last in the amount of goals you give up.”
Senior Ferriss Roberts said these final games of the season are crucial.
“The mentality we must have with three games left is know that every touch, every tackle, pass, shot, blocked shot or foul will dictate the outcome of the game,” Roberts said.
With three games remaining, the Bulldogs are fighting to make the Big South Conference Tournament. The top eight teams make the tournament, and unfortunately, UNCA is on the outside looking in right now.
UNCA (3-13, 1-7 BSC) returns home for its final two home games this week. They host Gardner-Webb Thursday at 3 p.m. and celebrate Senior Day on Saturday against Winthrop at 2:30 p.m.