Lady Chants fall to UNCW but ready for Big South schedule

After winning just two games in his first season, Coastal Carolina coach Paul Hogan did the unthinkable: He toughened the Lady Chanticleers’ non-conference schedule.

Not exactly the safe move for a new coach seeking job security that might come with an easier schedule. But Hogan took the hard road, and it appears to be paying off.

Coastal suffered a hard-fought and heart-breaking 1-0 loss to a talented UNC Wilmington (5-2-1) squad on Thursday, capping the non-conference season with a 3-4 record.

That’s one victory more than Coastal experienced all last season, but the Lady Chants seem infinitely improved thanks to a tough stretch of games against Kentucky, Western Michigan, Elon and UNC Wilmington.

“Playing Kentucky to start was a great opening game. They have so much speed and depth. That was a good eye opener for us,” Hogan said. “Western Michigan was a good team. Elon is a very good team. They have not had a lot of wins. (UNCW) is really a good team. It is a great way to prepare us. If we play like that every night, I know that we will get good results.”

While no loss is cause for celebration, the Lady Chants can take consolation in the effort they gave against a strong Lady Seahawks squad, which has lost to Virginia Tech and Virginia, and tied Atlantic Coast Conference power Wake Forest.

The game was physical from the start with several edgy moments in both halves. That kept the action going back and forth between the two teams, as both teams combined for just nine total shots in the first half.

The lone goal came at the 71:07-mark in the second half scored by Maddie McCormick off of an assist by Stephanie Rose.

“I am really proud of our kids. They worked hard for 90 minutes. I can’t fault them. There still needs to be a little bit better execution at times, but the effort was there. The heart was there,” said Hogan after the loss. “UNC Wilmington is a great team. They have had some great results. We expected a very physical, competitive game tonight and we got it. It is a good game to prepare us for conference play.”

Fia Jonsson contributed four shots for Coastal in the second half, as the Lady Chants tried to generate further offense. Cisca Okoko added three shots in the loss. Okoko had several late-game chances with a left-footed shot attempt just sailing wide left and a header that went over the top of the frame.

With the competition level for Coastal in non-conference play at such a high level, Hogan feels the team will be ready for the challenges of the Big South upcoming.

The Lady Chanticleers return to action on Thursday against conference foe Winthrop on the road. Action is slated to begin at 7 p.m.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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