Tirae Stevens, Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the number 22-ranked Armstrong State soccer team continued its winning ways with a 2-0 victory over the University of Tampa Spartans. The home season opener almost didn’t happen due to threats from the looming tropical storm, but the system moved far enough east of Savannah for play to happen.
It was a historic night for Pirate soccer, as the evening’s match was the first in school history to be contested at night and under new stadium lights. The 721 fans in attendance contributed to another historical feat: the crowd shattered the original record set in 2011 for most fans in attendance for an Armstrong soccer match.
Interestingly enough, the original record of 445 fans came in a match against the same University of Tampa.
“What tremendous support from our area supporters and our vocal student body,” head coach Eric Faulconer remarked regarding the record attendance. “The crowd was remarkable… I’ve never seen so many people out here.”
Both teams got off to a slow start as solid defense kept the score tied at zero. The Pirates had close opportunities to score three times within the first 13 minutes of play, but unlucky shots off the crossbar prevented them from happening. Despite this, the Pirates enjoyed a 14-3 lead in shots over the Spartans going into halftime.
Armstrong State would finally get on the board in the 73rd minute due to a goal from sophomore forward Martha Trimbach. Trimbach took a throughball assist from freshman Ashley Lewis for a low shot that Tampa goalkeeper Sydney Ross got a hand on but could not fully prevent from reaching the back of the net.
Not finished yet, Trimbach added to Armstrong’s score with a second goal in the 82nd minute. The crossbar was finally on the Lady Pirates’ side as, pouncing on a loose ball, Trimbach sent a shot that caught enough of the crossbar to ricochet in and give the Pirates the 2-0 lead.
The Pirates would go on to take the win from the Spartans, improving to a 3-1 overall record. Shooting was strong for Armstrong as they outshot the Spartans 23-8. Senior goalkeeper Erica Laurens collected one save during the match, but notched her second straight shutout of the season.
“[The players] played great tonight,” Coach Eric Faulconer explained after the match. “When we get a win over an elite program like Tampa, it’s significant.”
“Our energy is so high,” Trimbach added. “We’re just ready to take on this season and we’re gonna make it all the way.”
The Pirates capped off their weekend with a dominant 8-1 showing over the Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes on Saturday, Sept. 17. They are now 4-1 on the year with a perfect 1-0 conference mark.
Armstrong State returned home on Wednesday, Sept. 21, to face the Francis Marion University Patriots in Peach Belt Conference play and will next take to the road on Saturday, Sept. 24 against Young Harris.