APSU soccer picked up its first win of the season in a 4-3 double overtime victory against Jacksonville State. While four players tallied goals in the match, it was Ashley Whittaker’s in the 103rd minute that gave the Govs a much-needed victory.
The contest marks the second consecutive time the two teams have gone into the double overtime period. On Oct. 11, 2019, Morgan Drawdy scored the game-winning goal in the 110th minute at the JSU Soccer Complex in Jacksonville, Ala. to hand the Govs their third win of the season.
Led by junior goalkeeper Peyton Powell’s trio of saves, APSU fended off the Gamecocks’ early offensive attack that saw the visitors get five shots off in the first 33 minutes.
The two teams traded shots throughout the first half, but both defenses proved superior and held the match scoreless heading into the break.
Following Powell’s fifth save early in the second half, Ashley Whittaker raced past a flock of JSU defenders on the right sideline and connected with Isabel Petre for the freshman’s first collegiate goal in the 56th minute.
After Petre broke the ice with her score, goals began to rain down at Morgan Bros. Soccer Field for both teams.
JSU scored on their first goal of the afternoon in the 66th minute and took their first lead three minutes later on a long shot that fell into the upper-right hand corner of the net, just out of Powell’s reach.
In her first appearance for APSU, Hannah Wilson found the back of the net after a dish by fellow freshman Tori Case. It marked the third time a freshman had scored for the Govs in the early season with Petre’s goal 18 minutes prior and Case scoring against SIUE on March 5.
APSU regained their lead in the 80th minute when Claire Larose picked up her season’s first points by finding Delanie McKeon who connected on the goal. JSU answered back with a score of their own in the 87th minute to force overtime.
Neither team recorded a shot in the first overtime, but both put pressure on their oppositions’ defense early in the subsequent period.
Following a JSU shot sailing above the crossbar in the 101st minute, Petre found a wide-open Whittaker racing down the right sideline who beat the Gamecock’s goalkeeper and recorded the walk-off winning shot.
“I was just running out wide,” said Whittaker of her game-winning shot. “I was looking for a cross coming in, but Delanie [McKcKeon] hit [Isabel Petre] on a through-ball, then [Isabel] found me real quick and I just drove.
“I had actually been working on that angle in practice all week with Tracy [Hoza], because I had been struggling at taking that angle from that near post and trying to slide it behind the keeper from that really awkward angle on the right side. It paid off I guess, because I finished it. It felt really awesome to win the game. We needed a win.”
After falling in a 1-0 decision to Tennessee Tech a week prior and having a late comeback fall short in Edwardsville, Ill., the Govs earned their first win of the new season in remarkable fashion.
All four goals all came from different players, with a quartet of players also recording an assist in the match. The team additionally matched their season total of shots on the goal with seven.
“Credit to the girls that scored,” APSU head coach Naomi Kolarova said. “We had two freshmen out there that scored goals, which is awesome. One of them, it was her first game. I am just super excited for those kids to be able to get a better confidence and put the ball in the back of the net when they had the opportunity and I think that is good for our team.
“We don’t have an out-and-out goal scorer and I don’t think we have for a while. That shows because our goals come from all over the field with this group. That is exciting, because it means everyone is somewhat dangerous in front of the net. Obviously, we miss our fair share too, but I was really happy that a couple of those kids put them in the back of the net.”
APSU begins a two-game road trip that first leads them to Cape Girardeau, Mo. for a 6 p.m. start against the Southeast Missouri Redhawks on Friday.
Following their match against SEMO, APSU will travel to the Bluegrass state and take on Mu**ay State before returning home to face Eastern Kentucky Friday, March 19.