Bouncing back from a narrow road loss at Wake Forest, the NC State women’s soccer team took care of business against Syracuse, winning 3-0.
The Orange (4-11-1, 0-9-0 ACC) had some early chances, but the Wolfpack (8-7-2, 4-5-0 ACC) took control late in the first half and never looked back.
“Second games on these ACC weekends are hard,” said NC State head coach Tim Santoro. “We were really disappointed with our performance on Thursday, so we were fighting ourselves a little bit the first 20 minutes, but they did a good job of scoring the goals, getting the result, putting us in a good position for the postseason.”
After a lot of back and forth play, the Wolfpack opened the scoring in the 37th minute as redshirt junior defender Lulu Guttenberger converted from the penalty spot after junior midfielder Toni Starova was brought down in the box.
Starova, who was subbed on just moments before drawing the pen, played a nice one-two with sophomore forward Jameese Joseph on the left sideline. As Starova got the ball back, she positioned herself between the ball and the defender, forcing the defender to go through her and commit the foul.
“That's what she brings, that experience, that savvy,” Santoro said. “That was a big moment. We needed a goal. We had control of the game, but we needed a goal to kind of relax everyone and so it was a big play by her. Three or four changes we made actually, they were involved in that build up and that's what you need.”
The Wolfpack wasted no time in doubling its advantage after the break as freshman midfielder Emika Kawagishi cut the ball back at the edge of the box and perfectly hit an audacious chip over the Syracuse goalkeeper in the 49th minute.
Joseph picked up the assist on Kawagishi’s goal and got in on the scoring fun with a goal of her own in the 63rd minute. Senior forward Denae Antoine played Joseph in behind and the explosive Joseph used her speed to get a step on the last defender before bagging her eight goal of the season.
“She's been one of the top attacking players in this league all year,” Santoro said. “People measure success of those kinds of players by points and goals, and she's getting them, but Jameese has been good regardless. She's had a really good year and it's good to see her get rewarded.”
The goal was Joseph’s fourth in the last five games as the forward has helped lead the Pack in its resurgent back half of conference play.
Freshman goalkeeper Maria Echezarreta continued her stellar first fall season, making six saves in the win to record her fifth clean sheet of the season.
During the game, the Wolfpack players honored teammate Margot Ridgeway, who suffered a stroke last summer before making an incredible comeback to play in both the spring and this fall.
“In the summer of 2020, we had bigger, more important things on my mind about her than returning to play,” Santoro said. “It's been phenomenal to see her rebound and be able to contribute last spring and this fall and she deserves all the credit for rehab and getting back and getting herself in the position to play. So it was great for the team to do what they did.”
Today, we're honoring a special person in our family, @margotridgeway.After suffering from a stroke last year, she defied the odds and made the ultimate comeback. Her story is so inspiring and we're so thankful to have her ♥️ pic.twitter.com/bmoi1xmhqF— PackWSoccer⚽️ (@PackWSoccer) October 24, 2021
The players wore wrist tape with red ribbons and the message “B.E F.A.S.T”, an acronym that Ridgeway taught her teammates. The acronym helps people identify the signs of a stroke.
“I think this is one of the closest teams we’ve had together,” Ridgeway said. “It really feels like a family, and they made me feel so special today. [They] really make me feel loved like every single day and I love to come to practice and game days with them.”
The Wolfpack will wrap up its regular season on Thursday, Oct. 28 as it heads north to take on the Pitt Panthers. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACCNX.