On a rainy and humid day at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, the Kennesaw State University women’s soccer team edged out the Winthrop University Eagles 1-0 in the final match before beginning conference play.
KSU entered the game with a record of 4-4-1 against the Eagles’ 3-4.
The Owls established themselves early on as the aggressor in the match, holding possession of the ball and constantly attacking the Eagles’ defense. In the sixth minute, the Owls struck first on a short-range shot by Maggie Gaughan. A series of short passes and a final long pass saw the ball end up with Gaughan in front of the net.
After that first goal, the Owls never looked back. Though they did not score again, they created a number of scoring chances and seemed quite comfortable keeping possession for most of the match. Going into halftime, a number of substitutions were made, but the threat of a goal from Winthrop was never realized.
There were a couple of times when a counterattack from Winthrop saw them get into the final third of the pitch, but any opportunity to capitalize on a rare bit of possession was stopped by the solid KSU defense. The quick, short passes by the Owls allowed them to dictate the tempo throughout the match and keep the ball to themselves.
Kennesaw finished with 12 shots (4 on goal), while Samford had 5 shots (4 on goal).
The Owls’ offense was dominated by great plays from Kim Fincher, Isabella Contreras and Cassidy Kemp. Defensively, goalkeeper Ashley Zambetti had four saves while the back line played the full 90 minutes, anchored by Abby Roth, Carly Pessgrove and Ida Hepsoe.
Head coach Benji Walton was more than satisfied by the outcome.
“I love the way we came out — we played some of our best soccer the first 15 to 20 minutes of the match,” Walton said. “We’re trying to break down teams.”
As for the next game against Lipscomb, Walton knows the team has work to do, but he keeps the players focused.
“We have our hands full,” he said. “One game at a time.”