The VMI Keydets jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the UNCG Spartans used three second half goals to take a lead they would not relinquish, en route to a 4-1 victory in Southern Conference women’s soccer action Sunday afternoon at VMI’s Patchin Field in Lexington, Va. It was the first meeting ever between the programs and was VMI’s first home Southern Conference match in program history.
Kristen Whitehurst got the Keydets (2-9-1, 1-2 SoCon) on the board in the 20th minute and the match went to halftime tied, 1-1, but a 50th minute goal by Rebecca Burrows put the Spartans (6-4-3, 2-0-1) up 2-1. UNCG would tack on in the 55th and 71st minutes to account for the final margin.
In its victory, UNCG held a 19-7 edge in shots and a 5-4 edge in corner kicks. Emily Marbury made five saves in goal for the Keydets, while Spartan starting goalkeeper Chloe Buehler stopped one shot on goal.
UNCG controlled possession early, but Marbury made a pair of stops in the opening 17:17, including a dazzling diving save in the 18th minute to keep the match scoreless. The Keydets took advantage in the 20th minute, when VMI played a ball to the left portion of the box. Killian Buckley headed it into the middle, where a UNCG player was able to tip it. Whitehurst stole the ball from the Spartan player 10 yards out and scored easily, giving VMI a 1-0 lead.
The visitors countered just under four minutes later. VMI was whistled for a foul in the box, leading to a penalty kick being awarded to UNCG’s Chesney White. White converted the kick for her 10th goal of the year and a 1-1 tie.
The Keydets averted potential disaster in the 25th minute, when Marbury was out of the net for a moment chasing a long UNCG ball. The Spartans recovered, but were not aware of the open net and held the ball too long, allowing Marbury to get back in position and avert the scoring opportunity.
UNCG then danced around trouble in the 44th minute. The Keydets earned a corner kick and off that play, Alex Frank got off a header in traffic that appeared to have Buehler beat. Spartan defender Alexis Thomas cut across the mouth of the goal and headed the ball away for a team save, keeping the match tied at halftime.
The Spartans took the lead for good in the 50th minute. Georgia Brown played the ball on the left side of the box and made a quick pass to Burrows up top, who converted from 12 yards out to give UNCG a 2-1 edge.
That margin grew to 3-1 in the 55th minute. White played a long pass right to left that Marbury attempted to cut off, but the angle eluded the Keydet keeper and Tracy Wolf tipped the pass into the net for a goal and a 3-1 UNCG lead.
“I was so pleased with our effort in the first half,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “We did a quality job of keeping UNCG off its game and doing what we do well. Our back line and Emily Marbury were strong in the first 45 minutes, but in the second half, we struggled. Credit goes to UNCG and the ability its team showed in the second half.”