By Justin Caudell
One win could simply be considered luck, two is back-to-back, but once you earn three wins in a row, it is a winning streak.
After losing five of their first seven games, the Western Carolina Women’s soccer team has won their last three games to improve to 5-5 on the season. It is the first time they have had a .500 winning percentage since last year.
The Lady Catamounts started winning when they shocked then nationally ranked #20 University of South Carolina Gamecocks in Cullowhee 1-0 on Sept. 21. The win, which was preceded by a 3-0 loss at Tennessee on Sept. 19, was Western’s first victory over a ranked opponent in the team’s ten year history and the first loss handed to South Carolina in 2008.
Western’s only score came off a corner kick from senior Arlan Whittle, which went past Gamecocks goal keeper Mollie Patton, to give Western a 1-0 lead at the 64:00 minute mark. It was Whittle’s first goal of the season.
After the Lady Catamounts took the 1-0 lead, South Carolina had some opportunities to even the match, but Western’s goal keeper, sophomore Caitlyn Williams, sealed the victory. With seven minutes remaining in the game, she blocked a shot by Gamecocks midfielder Lolly Holland. South Carolina had another shot with second remaining, but the ball soared over the net.
Williams had four saves on the day and recorded her second shutout of the season.
“We knew we had to be aggressive coming in, I knew I had the corner kick and it was dangerous,” said Whittle following the game on her
winning goal. “We are all really excited, and this is a great win for the program.”
Western, who was behind through much of the game statisically, only had five shots on goal, compared to the Gamecocks’ eleven. They also had 20 fouls where as South Carolina had eight.
Lady Catamount’s head coach Tammy DeCesare said it was her team’s aggressiveness through the game that led her team to victory.
“We had to come out and put some pressure on their players to be successful,” said DeCesare. “This is the biggest win for our program to date by far.”
Following Western’s victory over South Carolina, they clinched their first Southern Conference win by blasting The Citadel Bulldogs 6 – 0 in Charleston, South Carolina on Sept. 26. Five different players contributed with goals in the match, with assists going to four different players.
The Lady Catamount’s scoring spree started two minutes in the game when junior midfielder Shanna Schmoker, after a pass by senior Buki Baruwa, shot past the Bulldogs goal keeper Whitney Nave to give Western an early 1-0 lead. It was Schmoker’s first goal of the season, thanks to the assist from Baruwa. Six minutes later, the Lady Catamounts were attacking again, when Buruwa scored a goal of her own after an assist from freshman Kayla Beauduy, giving Baruwa her first goal of the year.
At the 25 minute mark of the first half, Schmoker added her second goal of the match, while eight minutes later, junior Jenny Matteson scored her first goal of the season thanks to an assist from teammate Beauduy to give the Catamounts a 4-0 lead. Western added another score eighteen seconds later on a Bri Cunningham blast to give the Lady Catamounts a 5-0 advatange at halftime. Cunningham scored for the first time this season with an assist by junior
Western added another goal late in the match thanks to junior Kelly Estes, who scored her first goal on the season. Estes found the net after beating Bulldogs goal keeper Emily Green on an assist from freshman Taylor Lee to give the Lady Catamounts the 6-0 win.
The Lady Catamounts had a season high 20 shots on goal in the victory, compared to The Citadel’s four. Western’s six goals scored was also a season high.
Western reached three wins in a row on Sept. 28 by defeating the College of Charleston 1-0. The Lady Catamounts were out shot 14-to-5 by the College of Charleston Cougars, but Western Carolina won when at the 66 minute mark, Beauduy scored her second goal of the season after a pass from junior Nikki Collins.
Williams, in goal for the Lady Catamounts, had nine saves to secure Western’s 1-0 victory.
With the win, the Lady Catamounts moved to 2-0 in the Southern Conference and 5-5 on the season. Four of the five victories for Western have been shutouts. The only team the Lady Catamounts have not held scoreless was Sacred Heart on Sept. 14 when they won 3-1.
Western, hoping to continue their winning streak, hosted Wofford on Oct. 3 and Furman on Oct. 5 – both conference opponets. Results of those game will appear in the next edition of the Western Carolinian.