MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – Senior forward McCallie Jones scored a goal and added an assist to propel the College of Charleston women’s soccer team to a 2-1 win over VCU in its first game of the College of Charleston Cup at Patriots Point on Friday evening.
Jones (Charlotte, N.C.) scored unassisted in the game’s early moments and she set up Nicole Koretsky (Manalapan, N.J.) to score the game winner in the second half.
CofC (2-3) scored its two goals in the first five minutes of both halves.
“Unbelievable effort,” said head coach Christian Michner. “I always say good teams find a way to win… in adversity, when they’re dominating a match and when they’re not dominating a match. There were times when we had great possession and did really well and there were times that we were under pressure.
“VCU is a good team but I have to give my players credit – for being in a tough environment with the injuries we’ve got and the players dealt really well with sliding in and out of positions that they’re not necessarily as familiar with. It was a total team effort; we needed everybody tonight to win.”
Jones opportunistically put the Cougars up early when she won a 50/50 ball in the middle of the pitch and made a decisive run at goal to beat Ram keeper Emma Kruse with a low ball to the left corner of the net. The goal was Jones’ second of the season.
The VCU equalizer came in the 27th minute when Natalie Moik played a useful ball through the Cougar backline to give space to Courtney Conrad in the left side of the box. Conrad fired a shot off the post but controlled her own rebound and tucked it into the open net.
Just over three minutes into the second half, Francesca Kentimenos (Stony Point, N.Y.) played a ball along the right sideline to Jones who made a run towards the endline before centering it for Koretsky who scored her first of the season – the eventual game winner – across the goal mouth to the left corner.
“Clinical finishes,” said Michner. “We scored early goals in each half and that was the difference. We were on our heels a bit towards the end of the game and that was expected. When you’re defending a lead you want to maintain possession a little better, but with the players we had playing 90 minutes you have to expect to be under the gun a little bit. I couldn’t be more proud of how our team played, handled themselves, worked really hard… It was a total team effort.”
In the end, seven different Cougars offered a full 90 minutes. Goalkeeper Eli Sarasola (San Sebastian, Spain) was one of them and made three saves, each more dazzling than the last.
The first half of play was segmented with the Rams dictating the pace of play shortly after CofC netted the early goal.
Sophomore defender Hope Walker (Charlotte, N.C.) was pivotal to the win and made several key runs forward around the 25 minute mark which dictated CofC’s will to press forward and began to level out the possession.
She suffered a lower-body injury in the second half which took her off the field, causing her to miss her first minutes of the season. She was reinserted moments later and sacrificed herself to make a game-saving slide tackle in the box to thwart the Rams’ second equalizer. The play took Walker out for the remainder of the contest, but undoubtedly preserved the win.
The first half ended with a 6-5 shot advantage favoring the Cougars despite VCU dominating possession for the middle third of the period.
The second half started with quality early attacks for the Cougars. Moments in, Michaela Herrmann (Centennial, Colo.) played a great ball over the top to Jones who left it for Koretsky, but her shot would fizzle just over the bar and out of play.
After the ensuing goal kick sent the ball back to center, Kentimenos controlled it and sparked Jones down the right side leading to the game winner, and Koretsky was more opportunistic with her second opportunity.
The Rams went heavily on the attack for the remaining match, resulting in a lopsided 11-3 shot total in the second half.
CofC’s shape was compact and organized, however, and the eleventh-hour defending was what it needed to be to preserve the win.
The Cougars close the College of Charleston Cup with a Sunday afternoon bout with Kent State. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m.
“Kent State is a very well coached team,” said Michner. “They’ll come in well organized and it will be interesting to see how our team responds. Not a lot of turnaround time for either team, but we have a chance to win our tournament on Sunday so you’ll expect our team to come out with fire and ready to win a trophy.”