The NC State women’s soccer team took down Campbell 1-0 on Tuesday evening to maintain its perfect start to the 2021 season after three games.
The Wolfpack (3-0) took the lead inside of 20 minutes but for the second game in a row, head coach Tim Santoro was unhappy with his team’s performance on the field.
“It’s good that we got a win, we got a shutout,” Santoro said. “But we have so much inexperience on the field that you want to see take steps, and we didn’t tonight. They won the game and that’s a positive but we’re trying to get a clearer picture for things in the fall. You have to see a few more positives than we saw tonight.”
The Camels (0-1) outshot the Pack 8-5 including a flurry of chances late in the second half as the visitors searched for an equalizer. Campbell came very close twice but freshman keeper Maria Echezarreta was able to stand tall and preserve the clean sheet each time.
“We weren’t good tonight,” Santoro said. “Campbell deserves at least a point out of this game. If there’s low numbers then you hope for some people to step up and perform but we didn’t have that tonight, across the board. Maria was good in goal, but after that it wasn’t good.”
Junior forward Denae Antoine picked up her second goal of the season for the game’s only score, slipping the ball by the keeper after junior midfielder Toni Starova played her in behind the Camel’s defense in the 19th minute.
“[Junior midfielder Sandra Geiselhart] won a ball somewhere in the middle of their half,” Starova said. “She saw a perfect pass to me and just turned, took a touch to draw the defender to me and then laid it off to Denae and she finished it perfectly.”
In addition to her assist on the goal, Starova was all over the field against the Camels. The Czech international was constantly playing dangerous passes from deep and making darting runs into the attacking third. Starova was also active defensively, constantly tracking back. Although Santro was happy with Starova’s workrate, he said she needs to be better on the ball.
“Her workrate was good but you still have to have quality on the ball, quality in your decisions” Santoro said. “That is still what the game is about. Good workrate but the soccer needs to be better.”
Sophomore forward Leyah Hall-Robinson was especially active in the attack, forcing a good save out of the Camel’s keeper and putting another just wide at the end of the first half. Hall-Robinson has been off to a solid start to the spring season with two goals and one assist through the Pack’s first three games of the year.
Joining Antoine and Hall-Robinson in the Wolfpack’s attack was freshman defender Cara Elmendorf who made her first collegiate start against the Camels after seeing time off the bench in the Wolfpack’s first two games. Elmendorf looked solid on the ball playing accurate cross-field balls from the left side of the attack. The freshman was also on corner duty in the first half, something primarily done by redshirt junior defender Lulu Guttenberger.
“She strikes a good ball,” Santoro. “We were trying to save Lulu from coming from her center back position every time we take a corner. We’re looking at a couple of different looks on things, that’s all it was. Every game we’re trying to add and subtract things that we like and don’t like… we’re adding 12 players in the fall, so there’s a lot that we’re trying to feel out and see what will work and what doesn’t, what we’ll need to use the new players for.”
The Wolfpack will be back in action on Sunday, Feb. 28 as it hits the road for its first away game of the spring season, taking on VCU in Richmond, Virginia. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“Hopefully it is better than our last two home performances,” Santoro said. “VCU is a really good team. They are off to a really good start. It will be a really tough game. We have had three games in nine or ten games and we have 12 days now to rest and train and hopefully be ready for that one.”