By David Rogers. September 6, 2019. CHARLOTTE, NC — As “golden goals” go, it just wasn’t “Black & Golden.”
COVER IMAGE: App State’s Ava Dawson (4), heads the ball into goal to complete the Mountaineer comeback in regulation. The header came on a corner kick from the left side by Kristin Brown. All photographic images by Craig Weston for Blowing Rock News
Although Appalachian State women’s soccer battled back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to tie the game in regulation to force overtime, it didn’t even take host Charlotte a full minute of the first OT period to score a sudden victory.
On a blustery night with the western outer bands of Hurricane Dorian only 20 miles to the southeast, the 49ers’ sophomore forward Michaela Arteta lofted a corner kick in front of the App State net, just inside of the left goal post. That’s where senior forward Julia Grainda was able to redirect the ball past a handful of Mountaineer defenders and into the back of the net for the winning tally.
Arguably, the most remarkable thing about Charlotte’s winning goal is that they crafted it against what had been a strong, gusting wind that had all of the Conference-USA member flags flying starch-straight. This was the same wind that favored whichever team had the hurricane breeze at their backs in the two halves of regulation. Although it had diminished somewhat by the time of the first “golden goal” (AKA “sudden death”) overtime period, it was still strong enough to potentially be a factor.
Charlotte scored first, just two minutes into the match, when forward Jamie Fankhauser claimed a through-ball from junior midfielder Brianna Morris. Fankhauser got ahead of the Mountaineer backline with possession and slipped the ball past App State freshman goalkeeper Kerry Eagleston for the senior 49er’s first goal of the young 2019 season.
Taking advantage of the blustery, north-south wind, Charlotte held a 12-3 shot-at-goal advantage for the first half. At the beginning of the 41st minute, a free kick by senior defender Riley Orr carried over and past all App State defenders, including Eagleston, to give Charlotte a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead going into intermission.
Although the wind diminished some in the second half, it still favored the Mountaineers and with the breeze at their backs the game’s momentum shifted. App State was able to even the score at 2-2, capitalizing on two well-placed corner kicks by senior defender Kristin Brown and two solid headers off the kicks by senior midfielder Ava Dawson.
Appalachian appeared to get a lucky break as the game went into sudden-death overtime when they were able to start the first OT period with the wind at their backs. But just as the overtime period started, the wind seemed to die down significantly and the opportunistic 49ers quickly took advantage.
“I am proud of our players for not getting discouraged after a challenging first half,” Strickland said. ” They battled back and took advantage in the second half, when the wind favored us. Because of injuries, we started five freshmen tonight. They are all good players, but for most of them it was the first time they had faced an overtime situation, especially at the college level.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Charlotte,” Strickland added. “They are a very good team and the number of seniors they have this year and their experience really showed. We specifically scheduled Charlotte and other very competitive non-conference opponents early in the season to help prepare us for the Sun Belt league matches we will soon face. We are fortunate to face this kind of adversity now and will learn and benefit from these experiences.”
Now 1-3-1 in non-conference play, with losses to nationally ranked (#23) Wake Forest, Radford, and Charlotte to go with strong performances against UNC-Asheville (Won, 6-0) and Duquesne (Tie, 1-1), App State travels to Cookeville, TN on Sunday to face Tennessee Tech (0-2-2). Interestingly, TTU tied two of the Mountaineers future Sun Belt opponents in a late August tournament, 2-2 vs. South Alabama and 0-0 vs. tournament host, Troy.
App State returns to Boone to host Florida International (FIU) on Friday, September 13th, in a 7:00 pm affair at Ted Mackeroll Stadium. A member of Conference-USA (like Charlotte), FIU is 1-2 in the young 2019 season, with road losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville State before a win at home vs. Jacksonville University.
Now 3-1 with wins at Akron and Longwood before losing at home to Wake Forest, Charlotte as consecutive home games against Western Carolina on Sunday and vs. Campbell next Thursday.