By Caleb Bailey, Staff Writer
The Armstrong Pirates entered into last week with a 5-2 record with a 1-1 mark in the Peach Belt Conference. On Oct. 1 they traveled to UNC-Pembroke to play the Braves and escaped with a 2-1 overtime victory.
Then Oct. 4 they hosted the Nighthawks of the University of North Georgia, losing 2-0.
Freshman sensation Jenny Allen ignited her team in the early goings after taking a free kick from her sister Michelle and poking it past UNCP goalkeeper Janae Aiken. The goal came in the 9th minute. The Braves responded midway through the half.
In the 28th minute, Courtney Crump took a pass from Amber Watkins and just beat Morgan Luckie for the tying goal. The score stood at 1-1 for the rest of regulation.
In the second overtime, Taylor Valley took a long pass from Luckie and headed it towards Jenny Allen. Allen pushed it past Aiken, giving her team the win.
“I think this win shows us that we know how to grind it out for the win,” Allen said. “No matter how tired we are, we still give it our all to get that win. Now we’re preparing for Saturday’s game.”
The win over a tough PBC opponent pumped the Pirates up for a matchup against the North Georgia Nighthawks on Saturday. The one-loss Nighthawks have dominated in just about every win this season and it seemed likely that they would do the same to the Pirates early in the contest.
In the 2nd minute, UNG freshman Brynn Finneran drove towards the right side of the Armstrong box and slipped a pass just inside the post to give her team 1-0 lead. Despite the early deficit, the Pirates held strong for the rest of the half.
Few offensive opportunities were allowed in the game. The score held at halftime with the home team holding a 6-5 shot advantage.
UNG freshman Rachel Vanhorn, the leading goal scorer in the PBC, made her presence felt in the second half. In the 64th minute, Vanhorn took a throw-in from Sophia Matonak and beat Luckie for the goal, giving the Nighthawks the definitive 2-0 lead.
“We did okay on Wednesday,” Coach Eric Faulconer said. “We didn’t play particularly well, but we found a way to win. We got off to a slow start today and got penalized for it by a very good North Georgia team. We definitely aren’t going to beat anyone not competing for 50/50 balls, so I think that worked us and they were definitely better than us today.”
Taylor Russell talked about looking toward the future: “I think the biggest thing is just to put this loss behind us and look forward to the next game. I think we know what we need to work on this week going into Wednesday. We obviously don’t have any more room for error, so it’s going to look at every game like we need to win it to put us in a place to make the NCAA tournament.”
The Pirates hold a 6-3 record with a 2-2 record in the conference. They went on the road for two games this week and will next host Newberry Oct. 15.