With 24 minutes left in its game against No.2 Columbus State, it appeared that the UNCP women’s soccer team had a good chance of pulling off the upset.
The Braves (3-3-0, 1-1-0 PBC) led 1-0 at that point after freshman Alexis Pittman found the back of the net in the 60th minute. Goalkeeper Gina Ryan, who weathered seven attempted shots from the Cougars (4-1-0, 2-1-0 PBC) within the first 15 minutes of the second half, was keeping the hosts off the scoreboard.
Suddenly, the momentum changed sides.
Columbus State’s Kimmy May knocked a shot past Ryan in the 67th minute, and Olivia Jarrell scored the tiebreaker with nine minutes left in the game to help the Cougars top the Braves 2-1 on Sept. 24 in Columbus, Ga.
“While I am disappointed in the loss today, I am extremely proud of the team and how they followed the game plan to perfection,” UNCP head coach Lars Andersson said. “We knew we had to be smart against the No. 2 team in the country. We set up defensively and counted on being able to defend and then strike on the counter attack.”
UNCP fell short on corner kicks, managing just one in comparison to 10 for Columbus State. The only attempt for the Braves proved to be their last chance to tie the game in the 85th minute, but they couldn’t convert.
Pittman, a newcomer from Greensboro, registered her third goal of the season. She is the only Brave with multiple goals. Carly Rochelle picked up her first assist of the season on the score.
Ryan notched 11 saves between the posts for UNCP, the second-highest total of her career. The sophomore was constantly under pressure, as the Cougars outshot the Braves 26-3. The hosts also held a 13-1 advantage in shots on target.
Pittman led the Braves with a pair of shots. Kristina Stevenson was responsible for the only other attempt from UNCP.
Kelly Hendricks and Hugrun Elvarsdottir both fired a team-high five shots for the Cougars. Bria Rancho totaled one save for the hosts.
The Braves return home on Sept. 28 to host Georgia College. The game is slated to start at 6 p.m.