by Berry Aldridge, Staff Writer
After receiving a fifth-place bid to the NCAA Southeast Regional, the Armstrong Pirates upset the No. 2 seeded Wingate University 5-0 in the first round of the tournament. Unfortunately, the lady Pirates could not maintain that momentum and fell to No. 1 seed Carson-Newman College 3-0, ending their successful season with a record of thirteen wins, five losses, and three draws.
In their first game on Friday, Nov. 13, the ladies played their best game of the year by far. Wingate, known for their defense, had no answer for the Pirate attack, which score five goals on the day by three different players.
Sophomore Amanda Green struck first. In the 17th minute, she volleyed a headed corner kick over the Wingate keeper for the early lead.
Then, in the 29th minute, senior Taylor Valley received a pass from sophomore Jenny Allen and beat the keeper to send Pirates into the half with a 2-0 lead.
When play resumed, it took only 54 seconds before junior Sarah Olin slotted a Green cross past the keeper. Four minutes and 50 seconds later, Olin took a flick from sophomore Olivia DeJong and beat the keeper again and just like that, Armstrong goes up on Wingate, 4-0.
“I have to give credit to my teammates Amanda (Green) and Olivia (DeJong),” Olin said. “They made great plays on the ball and set me up with great opportunities to score. I’m glad I was able to put both shots away and help our team win.”
Green finished off the scoring in the 62nd minute when she took a pass from freshman Asa Thorsen and netted the Pirates fifth goal of the game.
More impressive than the Pirate offense however, might have been their defense. The Armstrong defense did not allow a single shot on goal for the entire match against Wingate.
Two days later, on Sunday Nov. 15, the game could not have been more different. Despite battling hard for the full 90 minutes, the Pirates failed to get much going offensively and surrendered three goals to the top-seeded Eagles of Carson-Newman.
“Well it was a tale of two different games obviously,” head coach Eric Faulconer said. “We were fantastic in all aspects Friday against Wingate and were not sharp at all versus Carson-Newman. I’m not sure why we couldn’t ride the momentum of the Wingate game into Sunday, but we did not. Overall, it was a good season. I wouldn’t call it great. We improved in a lot of areas and reversed some of the losses we had the previous season. But we failed to win a championship and that is our goal every year. We return pretty much our entire team in 2015. Hopefully we will continue to grow in a positive direction.”
Armstrong managed thirteen shots, seven of them on-goal, but could not get anything past the Eagle keeper.
The Pirates lose only four seniors this year and will return the majority of starters. However, these four seniors, Taylor Russell, Candace Cosby, Morgan Luckie, and Taylor Valley, will all be sorely missed by the program.
An obviously emotional Russell explained her pride in Armstrong soccer when she said, “It’s hard to put into words all of the memories that have been created over the past four years. I feel blessed to have created some lifetime friendships and become part of Armstrong family. I truly appreciate all the efforts and support of the coaches and Armstrong athletic staff and I wouldn’t want to have experienced this anywhere else. To say I’m going to miss playing is an understatement but I do know (the returning players) are off to do great things and succeed. Go Pirates.”
Go Pirates indeed.