Sunday, February 5, 2023

Soccer’s Historic Regular Season Come to An End

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Anna Grossheim and Naomi Fountain fight for the ball in a winning effort against Wingate. PN Photo/Andrew Thrift

By: Hunter Locklear

The Braves defeated Wingate University 1-0 at Lumbee EMC Stadium Oct. 20. This game pushed the Braves to a 10-game win streak, the longest since the 2008 when they won 11 straight. Naomi Fountain’s goal at the 15-minute mark sealed the win for the Braves.

The game featured a huge defensive effort from Braves’ goalie Chiara Coppin, who had three saves that helped keep Wingate scoreless. This game marked the seventh clean sheet of the season for Coppin, who has been a tough matchup for all opposing teams.

“I have to go into every game not thinking about the final result and keeping it scoreless but only looking at the next save I can have because you can never look too far ahead,” Coppin said regarding the extreme defensive effort the team has displayed all season.

“We take a lot of pride in defending and keeping a team score-less because it illustrates a level of commitment to making ourselves closer to a championship,” Coppin said. “Our team chemistry is the best it’s been in a while, and we all work together so well.”

Braves Over Southern Wesleyan. The Braves notched their 11th win of the season against Southern Wesleyan University on Oct. 23 by a score of 4-1. This win marked the 11th win for the team in a row, and matched the longest win streaks in program history.

The Braves were relentless on offense with a season high 40 shots attempted and 21 of those shots on target- another season high.

Anna Grossheim set a program record with a goal just 13 seconds into play, the fastest goal ever in program history. This goal earned the freshman Grossheim a program record, and her 11th goal of the season.

After 9 minutes and 57 seconds into play, the Braves were able to tally theirsecond goal off a shot made by Alexis Pittman, her fifth of the season. Kennedy Rucker was able to find the back of the net at 31:41 off a shot assisted by AnnaGrossheim, which marked up first goal of the season. Brianna De Coteau was able to close the game out with a score at 60:30. This goal was assisted by Anna Grossheim once again, and it also gave Coteau her first goal of the season.

“I honestly can’t believe I scored in 13 seconds. The build-up play was perfect. (Alexis Pittman) ball
to (Ashleigh Harris) then Ashleigh’s cross in. I was just in the right place at the right time and found the end of her cross. Coach told us he wanted us to get off to a quick start, it doesn’t get much quicker than that,” Grossheim said.

As tournament play approaches, Grossheim and the team continue to keep the mindset of not looking ahead.

“We are still taking it one game and one opponent at a time. We can’t look ahead when our most important game is always the next one. We’ve been training hard in practice, cor- recting the little things, but there’s always room for improvement,” said Grossheim.

Braves Stumble Against Mount Olive. On the Braves Senior Night they played the undefeated Mount Olive University. The Braves fell 2-1 in the Oct. 27 match. This loss knocked the Braves off their historic 11-game win streak. The loss also gives the Braves their first in-conference loss of the season, and Mount Olive a very tight hold on the 2021 Conference Carolinas regular season championship. 2021 is the Braves first season in the Conference Carolinas since they left in 1992.

There is still a path to the championship for the Braves. They must win their next match and have Mount Olive tie or lose their next game.

In minute 77, Alexis Pittman found a loose ball and redirected it into the goal to give the Braves their only score in the game. Eight players for the Braves tallied multiple shots, but the Braves were only able to get in one past the goalie.

Despite the loss, the team is still confident in their postseason abilities. Anna Bass still has faith in the team’s big goals set at the beginning of the season.

“As we get closer to playoffs, I think we’re very prepared. Our coaches scheduled some tough non-conference games to help prepare us even more for the teams we’re going to see in the NCAA tournament. They also pushed us every day at practice and made sure we kept our goals in sight,” Bass said.

Saturday, Oct. 30, The Braves traveled to Alumni Field to play Belmont Abbey University in the last game of the regular season. The 1-0 win helped the Braves clinch a second seed in the Conference Carolinas tournament.

This win also allows the Braves to have some time off, the team doesn’t have to play again until the semifinals in the tournament. Rilee Seering had the only score of the game in the 66th minute, where she got around defenders and kicked one to the back of the net to hold Belmont off. This goal marked Seering’s 12th of the season, and her third game-winning goal of the season. Chiara Coppin had five saves and recorded her eighth clean sheet of the season.

The Braves finished out the sea- son 13-4 in total, and 11-1 in conference play. The team’s focus will now shift towards the conference playoffs as they take time to rest.

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