By Justin CaudellSports Editor
It took over 450 minutes of play and six teams before an opponent could crack the Lady Catamounts’ defense on Oct. 10 at UNC-Greensboro.
After winning five games in a row, all shut-outs, the Western Carolina women’s soccer team was unable to overcome two first-half goals by UNC Greensboro as the Catamounts fell 2-0.
The UNCG Spartans first struck eight minutes into the contest when midfielder Katelynn Donovan beat the Catamounts goal keeper Caitlin Williams to put the Spartans up 1-0. Donovan took a pass from teammate Nicole Danford and scored at the lower right corner of the goal..
It was Williams first goal allowed since Sept. 19 in a 3-0 loss against Tennessee.
Ten minutes later, UNCG found the net again when Donovan spotted a hole to make the score 2-0 Spartans. Donovan, from the right corner of the box, fired to the lower left of the net and scored for her seventh goal of the season.
Western Carolina had some opportunities to crack UNCG’s defense in the first half when at the 28:00 minute mark, junior Bri Cunningham had a shot on goal and two minutes later, Cunningham was attacking again when she fired another shot on goal. Both times, the Spartans goalie Kelsey Kearney came up with the save to deny Cunningham a goal and preserve her team’s 2-0 lead.
In the second half, the Catamounts had two more opportunities to cut into the lead late, with shots by junior Shanna Schmoker and freshman Kayla Beauduy, but both of the players’ shots went wide to give UNCG a 2-0 marginal victory.
Western Carolina ended the game with seven shots on goal, compared to the Spartans’ 14. Catamounts goal keeper Williams finished the contest with five saves.
The loss to UNCG, Western’s first in the Southern Conference, was preceded by two wins in Cullowhee, which extended the Catamounts’ winning streak to five straight.
Western Carolina, behind Schmoker’s third goal of the season, defeated Wofford 1-0 on Oct. 3. After some great opportunities earlier in the game, the Catamounts scored at the 85:43 minute mark when Schmoker got a pass off the corner kick from senior Arlan Whittle and beat the Terrier’s goalie Katie McChesney into the back of the net, giving the Catamounts a 1-0 lead and the eventual win.
WCU finished the contest with a season-high 19 shots, holding the Terriers to just five. The Catamounts had 11 shots in the first half alone, also a season-high.
“It was the best first half for us this season,” head coach Tammy DeCesare said. “We generated a plethora of chances, but give credit to the Terrier’s goalie for making some tremendous saves.”
The Catamounts notched their fifth win versus Furman on Oct. 5.
Both teams had ample opportunities to score, but the Catamounts scored the eventual game-winning goal in the 81:00 minute of play, when sophomore Erin Hamilton beat the Paladins keeper Jessica Smith to give Western Carolina the 1-0 victory. Hamilton took the pass from junior Shannon Fowkes and fired a shot that was misplayed by Smith, going over her head for the goal. The goal ended Paladin’s goalkeeper streak of seven straight matches without a loss.
The victory for Western Carolina was also the first against Furman in regular season play at home, with their last win against the Paladins coming in 2005 in the SoCon Championship game against Furman.
“Furman is a great team, we always play close games with them,” said DeCesare. “Both teams were very physical, but we settled in nicely in the second half, out playing them with our intensity.”
The Paladins outshot the Catamounts 15-9, but WCU ‘s goalie Williams finished the game with four saves and recorded her fifth shutout in a row, giving her 450:00 minutes of shut out play.The 1-0 loss handed to Furman was first time that the Paladins have been shut out this season and the five straight shut outs is a first all-time for Western Carolina.
“The back four on defense have been growing and gelling together,” said DeCesare. “Caitlin [Williams] is very confident right now and it’s because of her defensive back line.”