JMU women’s soccer played UNCW, and despite being down a player, in overtime defeated them 3-2. The game was characterized by the Dukes skillful passes, shots and tricks, but also slip-ups. However in the end, JMU’s strategy and urgency got the job done. With the win, JMU improved to 7-7 on the season (4-1 CAA).
In the first five minutes, UNCW had chances with multiple corners. However, in the 10th minute, JMU showed it wouldn’t be overpowered when junior forward Haley Crawford took the ball down the left wing and passed it into the box for sophomore forward/midfielder Ginger Deel to put the Dukes up 1-0. Crawford and Deel would continue to beat defenders and make dangerous passes throughout the game.
“We work on a lot, getting up the field, we really try not to play through the middle,” Deel said. “Our outside mids, they work so hard, they probably average seven miles a game.”
The Seahawks did seem to have a potential answer in junior midfielder/forward Dominique Martinez, however, it remained only potential. The pace of Martinez was kept in check by freshman defender Ashby Larkin. At every contest, Larkin prevented Martinez from getting behind her with the ball.
“They have three forwards and Hernandez comes down and gets the ball and she got matched up in space a lot with Ashby,” JMU head coach Joshua Walter said. “I thought Ashby did a fantastic job of limiting her, pushing her wide, making her be on an island by herself and not letting her give service to the other team.”
Though dominant, JMU forwards couldn’t figure out the weight for a final through-ball. The Dukes also had several shots from outside the box, one of which hit the crossbar. As time crept off the clock, JMU’s defense and set pieces slipped. The Seahawks earned a corner in the 40th minute and sent it into the box, which caused an own goal by JMU senior defender Hailey Stein. UNCW took this momentum and used it to get two shots on goal in the remaining minutes. One shot was saved and the other found the back of the net to force the score to 2-1 going into halftime.
“The bad of this one would be set-piece defending; they scored the first one near post,” Walters said. Sometimes that stuff happens. Hopefully we could have learned and adjusted, but we couldn’t get into halftime fast enough to adjust on it and we gave up two corners in the same spot.”
With the starters back in, Crawford was fouled in the UNCW box and buried the resulting penalty kick, tying up the game 2-2. A sense of JMU urgency was made clear in the 60th minute, when sophomore forward Sophie Brause got a shot on goal from more than 20 yards out.
In the 75th minute, the ball was passed back to UNCW’s Martinez and senior defender/midfielder Stephanie Hendrie came up to smother the possession. However, this time the Dukes’ defensive mix of position and physicality leaned too far into physicality, and Hendrie was sent off with her second yellow card.
“You couldn’t even tell from the outside that we were playing with a man down, because of how well we kept the ball and how well we possessed,” Deel said. “We worked hard, we did the little things right, it was a great game.”
The game ended in a 2-2 tie and went into overtime, but the Dukes would finish the Seahawks with a set piece. Redshirt freshman forward/midfielder Hannah Coulling got a throw-in all the way to the box and Deel rose above the defense to head it into the back of the net.
“You want to see if your team is gritty, and when the chips are down, if they can fight to come back, and our girls proved it,” Walters said. “Man down for 30 minutes and they fight back to find a tying goal and they fight back to find the game-winning goal, you look at that as a coach and it gets you excited about what can go forward.”
The Dukes will try to gain a winning record Thursday at 7 p.m. when they travel to the College of Charleston, another crucial CAA matchup.
Contact Josh Meyers email@example.com. For more soccer coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.