By Caleb Bailey, Staff Writer
The Armstrong Pirates soccer team entered into last week’s games with a three game winning streak and hoped to continue that when they hosted Peach Belt Conference opponent USC-Aiken on Wednesday, October 22 in their final home game of the regular season.
The Pirates dominated the contest as they rolled the Pacers for a 4-0 shutout, their fourth straight.
“We’ve improved a lot since we lost to North Georgia and Clayton (State),” junior keeper Morgan Luckie said about the game, “We gave up quite a few goals in those games and at the beginning of the year. We decided we needed to focus on organizing and our shape and communicating better. We’ve worked really hard in practice and it’s really paying off. It’s great that it’s happening now.”
Reigning PBC Defensive Player of the Week McKenzie Anderson ignited her team with her third goal of the season on a free kick from outside the box in the 12th minute. Anderson increased her team’s lead in the 45th minute as she headed a goal in off a corner kick from Michelle Allen just before halftime. The Pirates held a 17-4 shot advantage with a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The Pacers played tough offensively in the first few minutes of the second half, but the Pirates defense was just too much for them. In the 72nd minute, Amanda Green drew a penalty kick and Taylor Russell took the shot and connected for her second goal of the season, giving her team a 3-0 lead.
Jenny Allen wasted little time to stretch the lead to 4-0 when she took a pass from Kennedi Herrmann and pushed a shot a past USC-Aiken keeper Nicole Cranny for her 11th goal of the season just over a minute later.
“Aiken is a good team,” head coach Eric Faulconer said, “They have had some good results this year. We beat them 4-0 and we’re really proud of that effort. This team has really turned the corner since losing to Clayton State. We knew if we go out and play hard we would win. We’ve recommitted and I’m really proud of that.”
The Pirates continued their winning ways on Saturday, October 25th when they traveled to Americus to play another PBC opponent in the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern. It was an absolute blowout as the Pirates shutout the Hurricanes 10-0, stretching their shutout streak to 458 minutes and 19 seconds, last allowing a goal on October 8th.
Thirty seconds into the match, Sarah Olin got on the board for her fifth goal of the season, capitalizing off of a Russell shot that was deflected by the keeper. Olin found Jenny Allen in the 10th minute who converted the pass for her 12th goal of the season.
Michelle Allen scored her first collegiate goal after crushing a shot from 40 yards out in the 13th minute and Taylor Valley scored her eighth goal of the season, making the score 7-0 in the 27th minute.
Between the 29th and 32nd minute, one Pirate nearly made history. Ashley Green scored three consecutive goals, the Pirates’ second hat trick of the season. Green’s hat trick came in a span of 2:26, which is the third shortest span for a hat trick in NCAA Division II history. The Pirates held a 7-0 lead at the half.
The Pirates continued to dominate in the second half as Olivia Dejong added a goal in the 62nd minute and Jordan Otto added two more on to close out the 10-0 victory. The Pirates finished the game with an unbelievable 42-1 advantage in shots. One Pirate hopes they can keep their winning ways going.
“At this point in the season, we are really trying to focus on getting better in every area and this game really helped us work on some things,” Valley said, “We had success attacking and solid defending and were able to work on our possession side of the game. We are excited to be heading in the direction we are.”
“Since the Clayton State game, we have really started to do the little things that win games,” Coach Faulconer said. “We are much more focused, playing calm and bringing a winning attitude to each match. If we can stay on that path, we can hopefully continue to have success.”
The two wins put the Pirates at 11-4 and 6-3 in the PBC. They finish off their regular season Saturday, November 1st on the road against Lander.