Women’s soccer: VMI Keydets drop season opener to UNC Asheville, 1-0

An 84th-minute goal by Skyler Chillson broke a scoreless tie and sent the UNC Asheville Bulldogs past the VMI Keydets, 1-0, in women’s soccer action Friday at Patchin Field in Lexington, Va. The game was the season opener for both clubs.

vmiThe teams had battled to a draw over the first 83-plus minutes, thanks in large part to goalkeepers Ceci Keppeler and Bryson Lee, but Asheville broke through at 83:20. Caroline Houser slipped a pass across the box to an open Chillson, who went top-shelf to beat Keppeler for the only goal of the day.

The Bulldogs had to hold on in the closing seconds, as a desperate sliding shot by VMI’s Emma Quirk required a sprawling save by Lee, but Chillson’s goal ultimately did prove to be the winner.

On the day, Asheville outshot VMI 23-11 overall. Keppeler was credited with 10 saves, the second double-digit save effort of her career, while Lee made six stops for Asheville.

The start of the match was delayed 20 minutes due to weather, but when it did get underway, the teams traded chances early. An Emma Houser shot at 5:14 required a sprawling save by Keppeler, while Lee knocked a Juliet Esnardo shot over the crosscar at 6:53. The visitors also had chances in the 13th and 17th minutes, but a potential goal was waved off by an offsides violation and Caroline Houser pushed an open shot wide to keep the match scoreless.

Asheville continued to push the issue early in the second half, when a Courtney Naber shot hit the crossbar and bounced to the feet of Chillson. The freshman misfired on the rebound, however, and the match was still scoreless.

Keppeler then made three spectacular saves in a matter of moments, beginning in the 69th minute when she stopped Emily Duenas twice, and that seemed to turn the momentum briefly. The Keydets had four of their five second-half shots, including both of their on-goal efforts, after that sequence. Unfortunately for VMI, Chillson’s goal also came after those plays and was enough for Asheville to prevail.

VMI women’s soccer will return to action Monday, when the Keydets travel to Hampton, Va. to take on the Hampton Lady Pirates. Action gets underway at 4 p.m.

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