Kristen Whitehurst scored two goals, while Myranda Emery and Emma Quirk chipped in for one score each to power the VMI Keydets past the Chattanooga Mocs, 4-0, in Southern Conference women’s soccer action Sunday afternoon at Patchin Field. The four goals marked VMI’s highest offensive output since scoring four times on Aug. 19, 2011 against Howard, and equaled a four-goal output against High Point on Oct. 15, 2005 as the program’s highest scoring conference game ever.
Whitehurst put VMI (3-10-1, 2-3 SoCon) up early, scoring in the 12th minute to give the Keydets a lead they would not relinquish. Emery tacked on a penalty kick later in the first half, while Quirk and Whitehurst scored in the final 25-plus minutes to account for the quartet of goals on a field that was soaked by a steady, consistent rain until 30 minutes before game time. The rain then re-emerged as the second half began, prompting multiple players to lose their footing untouched and players making tackles to slide multiple feet.
In a symbol of what was to come, the Keydets nearly scored in the opening minute. VMI played a long pass into the box to the feet of UTC keeper Hannah Dunn, but Dunn misplayed the hit and Whitehurst was there for a rebound. Dunn recovered for the save, however, keeping the match scoreless.
VMI then struck in the 12th minute. Whitehurst drilled a shot off the post that came free into a crowd on the right-hand side of the box. Nicole Blixt controlled the ball out of the crowd and saw an open Whitehurst across the box. One pass and a quick shot later, VMI led, 1-0.
That margin doubled in the 23rd minute, when UTC was whistled for a foul in the box and VMI was awarded a penalty kick. Myranda Emery, playing in her first match since Sept. 19, converted the try for her first goal of the year and a 2-0 Keydet lead. It was Emery’s second career penalty kick goal in two tries, as she also converted last season against South Carolina State.
UTC nearly got on the board in the 27th minute. Skylar Brewer played a shot towards an open side of the net, to Emily Marbury’s left, but the ball died in a muddy area just in front of the goal line. That gave Marbury enough time to scurry across the goal mouth for the save, preserving the shutout.
VMI had a near-miss eight minutes later, when freshman Carlee Anderson was turned aside by a scrambling Dunn. Dunn could not control the rebound, but Anderson hit the post with her second try and the ball bounded away, keeping it a 2-0 game. That would be the score at halftime.
The Mocs nearly cut their deficit in half seven minutes into the second period. Crystal Mackezyk hit the crossbar with a try, and a follow-up header by McKenzie Gregg was wide.
VMI then resumed the scoring at 64:14. Sarah Putney earned a long free kick, 15 to 20 yards inside the Keydet offensive side of the field and to the goalkeeper’s right. Putney lofted the ball all the way to Dunn, who could only get her hands on it. Dunn bobbled the ball and it fell right to the feet of Quirk, who tipped it in easily for her third goal of the year and a 3-0 VMI margin.
As the footing grew more and more treacherous, quality chances were few and far between over the waning moments. The Keydets capped the scoring with seven seconds remaining, when a long ball by Putney found the foot of Whitehurst for another goal and the final margin, 4-0. The final minute goal was the third-latest goal scored in VMI women’s soccer history.
Whitehurst finished with her second career multi-goal game and first since last Sept. 8 against Delaware State, while Putney’s two assists were the first points of any kind for the long-time defender since Sept. 29, 2012.
In the Keydet win, UTC (1-12-1, 0-5) held a 19-16 edge in shots and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks. Marbury made seven saves in her second career shutout, while Chattanooga keeper Dunn stopped four shots for the visitors.
VMI women’s soccer will return to action Friday, taking on East Tennessee State in Johnson City, Tenn. Game time is set for 7 p.m.