Women’s soccer: VMI shuts out Citadel, 3-0

vmi_logo2First-half goals for Blake Cashin and Sydnie Bligh gave the Keydets an early lead, and Olivia Cotton put the match away with a second-half score as the VMI Keydets defeated The Citadel Bulldogs, 3-0, in SoCon women’s soccer action Friday in Lexington, Va.

Bligh put the Keydets (6-10, 2-5 SoCon) out in front in the sixth minute, when Juliet Esnardo played a cross into the middle of the box from the right side. Bligh was there waiting for the tip-in and a VMI lead that the Keydets would not relinquish.

The Citadel finished the match with a 20-15 lead in shots, but the squads were even with nine shots on goal apiece. Bligh’s goal was her sixth of the year, the highest goal-scoring total for a Keydet since Sarah Strand scored nine in 2011. As a team, VMI has tallied 29 goals, its highest total since 2008.

After Bligh struck early, The Citadel (1-15, 0-6) maintained a great deal of the possession throughout the first half, but only seriously threatened Dunham on one occasion, a sliding kick, left-footed save on a shot from seven yards out.

The Keydets doubled their lead in the 40th minute. Cashin pursued the ball deep inside Bulldog territory, with goalie Kim Mora coming out to try to play the ball as well. The two battled for it some 20 yards from the goal, on the far left of the field, and Cashin prevailed to leave the net open.

The freshman quickly fired the ball toward the net and scored, her fourth goal of the season, to make it a 2-0 contest. That was the score at halftime.

VMI claimed an insurmountable margin in the 50th minute. A cross from the far side was played toward the feet of Bligh, who let it roll through. A Citadel defender kicked the ball away, but right to the feet of Cotton for a quick shot from 10 yards out. She converted it for her fifth score of the year and a 3-0 VMI lead, which would be the final margin.

The Bulldogs averted several Keydet chances in the second half, including multiple team saves, but VMI’s defense maintained the shutout.

Dunham was credited with nine saves in her second full shutout of the year. The victory moved her within two of tying for the program record for goalie wins in a season. Citadel’s Mora and Abby Koger combined for three saves.

VMI women’s soccer will return to action Sunday, when the Keydets take on the Mercer Bears at Patchin Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and before the match, the three members of VMI’s senior class will be honored at midfield.


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