Kenzie Major scored her fifth goal of the season in the 25th minute and it was all the usc Upstate Spartans needed, as they held on for a 1-0 victory over the VMI Keydets in non-conference women’s soccer action Sunday at Patchin Field in Lexington, Va.
After a scoreless first 24 minutes, Upstate’s (2-7) Samantha Seelinger made a sliding pass around two VMI defenders at the edge of the box. The ball made it through the defense to the feet of Major, who then put it by VMI (1-7) goalkeeper Kirsten Hancock for what would prove to be the game’s only goal.
Upstate finished with a 13-8 edge in shots and 5-2 advantage in corners, while Kirsten Hancock made three saves and Ellen Bright had four stops for the visitors.
The Keydets had the first quality chance in the 10th minute, when Erica Putney had a corner kick. Kristen Whitehurst got free, but had her shot blocked aside. The first shot on goal then came in the 18th minute, when Hancock made a save on Nicki Krejci. After a 23rd minute save by Hancock, Upstate got on the board in the 25th minute to go up, 1-0.
The visitors continued to pressure the Keydet goal, but Major was turned aside by Hancock in the 33rd minute and then hit the crossbar with a 36th-minute header to keep it a 1-0 contest.
The Keydets countered late in the half, when Sarah Putney split two defenders 15 yards out and worked into a 1 on 1 against Bright, but the Upstate keeper was up to the task and sent her team to halftime up, 1-0.
Upstate nearly put the game away in the 55th minute. Major got free well inside the box after beating multiple defenders and had a 1 on 1 chance against Hancock, but pushed a shot wide left to keep it 1-0.
VMI stepped up its pressure over the final 36 minutes of the match. Emily Adams missed wide at 64:02 and Bright stopped Sarah Putney less than 90 seconds later. Whitehurst missed wide left on an open try from 15 in the 70th minute and the chances kept coming.
Eryn Daman misfired high at 72:30, and then perhaps the best VMI chance came in the 87th minute. Alex Frank dropped a pass to Daman, who had a chance from 10 yards out, but was stopped by Bright to preserve the 1-0 margin. Allie Segura was turned aside on VMI’s final shot on goal, an attempt that came at 88:09, to secure the shutout for the visitors.
“I credit usc Upstate,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “They worked hard all day and their keeper, Ellen Bright, was outstanding. They pressured us successfully for their first half goal. I’m proud of our effort in the second half because, much like against Radford, we had several chances. Again, however, we just could not finish.”
VMI women’s soccer will return to action Friday, traveling to Charleston, S.C. to face The Citadel. The game will be the first SoCon game ever for Keydet women’s soccer, and opening kick is set for 4 p.m.