The Spartans played their first home match last Thursday. They came out with the victory of 2-1 against hometown rival Elon.
The players, coaches and staff were very excited to play in the first match on their home turf. Head coach Michael Coll spoke for everyone when he said,
“We were very excited. The UNCG soccer stadium is a palace.” He also expressed gratitude for all the fans that showed up when he said, “And our fans are fantastic! We had a nice crowd again tonight.”
The game being played against Elon was important, but coach talked about how it doesn’t really matter who they play because “just the fact that we’re here in this palace, playing on this beautiful field, with beautiful surroundings, and a great crowd, it all just puts us beyond excited.”
The first half was well played overall for the Spartans, as they scored two goals. The first goal came in the 23rd minute when Gabbi Charles lined up a corner kick which was headed in by Emily Jensen for the first score. Just a few minutes later, Charles lined up an offensive cross that looked to be placed for Caylin Prillaman to score, but instead the ball got curved into the left side of the goal for the Spartans, giving them the 2-0 lead in the first half.
When asked how he thought his players performed in the first half, coach Coll stated that he thought, “We were very entertaining, the two goals were well-deserved, and our overall play as far as our approach to get additional shots off was impressive.” When asked what was talked about during halftime coach explained that the team “knew that Elon was going to come out and play pretty direct in the second half, and that they were going to throw numbers forward.” Defensive was going to be imperative because the women knew “a lot of second balls were going to happen in dangerous areas.” The players had to stay motivated because they “knew Elon would have a whole new sense of belief in the second half.”
The team came out in the second half with a defensive state-of-mind. Yet, in the 42nd minute, the Elon Phoenix capitalized off of a well-placed corner kick that was shot by Jenny Riemer. Fellow Phoenix player Susannah Anderson got the ball in the net and gave Elon a fighting chance with the score then being 2-1. The blue and gold survived multiple scares in the 67th minute when Elon got three chances in a row to tie the game. However, because of a spectacular defensive play by Marissa Ferrantino, and other plays by our Spartans, we were able to keep Elon out of goal and the game in the Spartans favor at 2-1.
Coach Coll absolutely loved the defensive, line-clearing play by Marissa Ferrantino in the 67th minute. When asked to describe his reaction, Coll said “That was impressive. I thought ‘That’s a goal.’ But what a play! It’s important for players to step up and make big plays to get wins. Ferrantino did exactly that. It was very impressive. I cannot speak highly enough of it.”
UNCG was able to pull out the 2-1 victory in the end against Elon, giving the women their first win of the season. The Spartan freshman goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper got the start in this game over Chloe Buehler, who is a redshirt senior this season. When asked how he thought she played in her first start, Coll said that “I think there was a little bit of fault for her on the goal that Elon got but she’s a confident kid and a very good goalkeeper.”
Another Spartan player who had an excellent game was freshman forward Quiqui Hita. Coll loved her performance when he said, “Quiqui is a good player. We have tried Quiqui in a few different spots the first three games of the season already. We got her into the central spot today, and she played like she has played all games there.” With her only being a freshman, Spartan soccer knows they can rely on her to make plays for years to come.
Next up on the blue and gold’s schedule are two away games, the first being held at Appalachian State on Sept. 1 and the second being held at High Point on Sept. 4. The women come back home on Friday, Sept. 8 to play against Longwood at 7:00 p.m. in the UNCG Soccer Stadium.