CCU celebrates Senior Day with fifth straight victory

It was a double celebration for the Coastal Carolina women’s soccer team Saturday as the Chanticleers honored their six seniors before the game against High Point and then went out and knocked off the first-place Panthers 1-0 at the CCU Soccer Field.

Sophomore Kacey Kelley scored the lone goal in the 30th minute, with an assist by Christina Stern, lifting the Chants to their fifth straight victory and seventh win in their last eight games. Coastal upped its overall record to 10-7-0 and solidified its hold on fourth place in the Big South with a 7-3-0 mark. High Point had its nine-game unbeaten streak snapped and fell to 8-5-6 overall and 7-1-2 in the conference.

It was the final regular-season home game for seniors Ashley Day, Anna Lowe, Ali Morin, Maggie McGavin, Cami Skladany and Morgan Thomas.

“Our seniors have been through a lot while they’ve been here and they’re a great group of kids,” head coach Paul Hogan said. “I can’t think of a better way to send those kids off.”

The Chants turned in yet another strong defensive effort, shutting down a high-powered High Point offense that came in leading the Big South in goals. However, Coastal limited the Panthers to just eight shots – more than 10 below their average – and only two attempts on goal.

One of those came in the 25th minute as Janay Whitaker put a low shot toward the corner. However, junior goalkeeper Megan Spencer dove to her right to make the save.

Kelley then struck for her team-high ninth goal of the season. Stern sent a cross from the right side into the 18-yard box where Kelley had gotten loose. The 5-8 forward lunged her body forward to get a head on the ball and deflect it into the left corner. The assist was Stern’s third of the year.

Though the Chants weren’t able to add to the lead, they controlled play the majority of the game, finishing with 15 shots, including eight on goal. Kelley totaled four shots, while Stern and junior Cisca Okoko each had three.

High Point was finally able to put some pressure on the Coastal net in the final 10 minutes of the second half, but the Chants prevented the Panthers from putting any attempts on net. Spencer grabbed a free kick out of the air with under two minutes left and a desperation shot by Becca Hemby, the team’s leading scorer, was blocked. The ensuing corner kick as the final seconds ticked away was unsuccessful and the Chanticleers held on for their biggest win of the season.

“We talk about how you’ve got to find a way and there’s always stress,” Hogan said. “We know that’s part of the game and we grinded it out. That’s what I’m most proud of, that we found a way and did it.”

Spencer totaled two saves in earning her sixth individual shutout of the year as the Chants held their opponent scoreless for the eighth time, including five out of the last eight games. It is only the third time this season that High Point has been shut out.

Coastal will wrap up the regular season on Tuesday  with a 3 p.m. game at Charleston Southern. The Chants will then play a first-round game of the Big South Tournament either October 27 or 28. The date and time will be determined once the seedings are finalized.

– Photo by Joel Beachum

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