The UNC Wilmington women’s soccer team entered Sunday afternoon’s CAA matchup with Towson in need of a win to keep its Colonial Athletic Association Conference Tournament hopes alive. After a real rollercoaster of a game, they did just that in a 4-3 overtime win at UNCW Soccer Stadium.
The Seahawks (9-6, 3-5) entered senior day with a three-game losing streak, but they found trouble less than four minutes in when Tigers junior forward Christiana Davey scored her first goal of the season after a pass from forward Jenna Blank.
However, UNCW found itself level just under two minutes later after redshirt junior forward Kirsten Bootes scored her fifth goal of the season off a rebound from a Molly McGarry strike. The Seahawks would then take the lead going into halftime when a 30-yard wonder-strike from sophomore midfielder Audrey Harding flew into the top right corner in the 41stminute.
UNCW took a 3-1 lead 12 minutes after the restart when a Grace Bondurant corner produced a scrum in the box, which junior defender Ashley Johnson greatly bundled home for her third of the campaign.
And yet, the Tigers (4-12-3, 1-6-2) still roared back. Blank dispossessed Baley Edwards in the Seahawk half, and the freshman was all alone to slot the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Schneider on 62 minutes. Towson later took advantage of an incorrectly-awarded throw-in for Olivia Ramirez to score an equalizer with a minute left in regulation; it was the freshman’s first-ever college career goal.
But, it would be the Seahawks with the last – and decisive – word. Just halfway through the first overtime period, junior forward Dominique Martinez was taken down from behind in the penalty area. Molly McGarry stepped up to take it, and the sophomore midfielder rose to the occasion with a shot that rifled into Tigers senior keeper Megan Collins’ top left-hand corner to win the game for UNCW.
Both Schneider and senior Caitie Broderick split time in goal for the Seahawks. The duo tallied six saves between them, with Schneider making four of them. Collins made two saves in goal for Towson in her final collegiate game. Towson had a slight 11-10 edge in the shot count, but UNCW had a large 8-1 advantage on corner kicks.
“It was an exciting game,” Seahawks head coach Chris Neal said postgame. “We were in control, and then with 25 minutes left in the second half, Towson decided to step up to us and apply a little bit of pressure, and we didn’t handle it well…we gave up that back-breaking equalizer with a minute left. It was a total rollercoaster of energy and emotion, but fortunately we rebounded and got it together to win it in overtime.”
McGarry, Bondurant and Johnson all spoke of the importance of the result postgame.
“I think for us, just keeping our head up and scoring goals [was important], and we needed to do that,” said sophomore midfielder Bondurant.
“A big thing that we’ve always kind of harped on is that Sundays are always a grind,” said Johnson. “Today we got the result, which we needed.”
“I’m always kind of calm, but it is a little bit uncomfortable when there’s a really long period of time in between when they call the foul and you’re just standing there waiting to take it,” said matchwinner McGarry of stepping up to take the penalty. “There was kind of this weird tension between their players and us taking it…it was kind of scrappy and it got a little bit passive-aggressive. But overall, it was normal and I was calm.”
UNCW closes out the regular season on Tuesday night when Elon visits the Port City for a 7 p.m. kickoff – victory would send UNCW to the CAA playoffs for the third time in four seasons.