On a shivery Thursday night at Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex in Boone, the App State women’s soccer team (1-4-2) were able to pick up an exciting, come-from-behind victory over their former SoCon rivals, the Davidson Wildcats (1-5-0).
Fresh after dropping a tough contest 4-0 versus Texas Tech in Lubbock on Sunday, App State came out and played with a chip on their shoulder for 90 physical, hard-fought minutes to grind out their first win of the season. Davidson entered the game coming off of a 1-2 loss against East Carolina.
Sophomore midfielder Ava Dawson led the way for the Mountaineers, knocking in her second and third goals of the year. Redshirt senior forward Sharon Osterbind added the third overall and decisive goal, along with an assist.
Heading into the match, for both the Mountaineers and the Wildcats, defense was the strong suit. The Mountaineers had managed to score just three goals in their first six matches of the season.
For most of the first half, it appeared that Appalachian State was in for another low scoring affair. The scoring didn’t open until right around the two-thirds mark of the first half.
In the 33rd minute, Davidson was able to draw the first blood when sophomore forward Allison Gray broke loose and found the back of the net. The goal came on an assist from freshman forward Carmen Wagner and was Gray’s second of the season.
Davidson’s early lead was short lived. The Mountaineers stormed right back with an equalizer of their own at the 35:51 mark. Dawson, the Greenville, North Carolina product by way of D.H. Conley High School, headed in an awkward shot that Wildcat goalkeeper Kendall Davis appeared to misjudge, allowing the ball to bounce into the net.
“We were down 1-0 so I knew I had to take the chance,” Dawson said. “I really didn’t expect the shot to go in because it was from so far away, but it bounced in and it was really exciting,”
It was assisted by junior midfielder Emmily Cowie, her second of the year.
The match remained tied at halftime and well into the second half until Davidson jumped out to their second lead of the night. At the 61:47 mark, Wildcat sophomore forward Cameron France netted her first goal of the year from inside the box to give her squad a 2-1 lead.
Again, the resilient Mountaineers wasted little time before evening the match at two goals apiece in the 63rd minute. This time, the keeper had no chance as Dawson knocked in a beautiful shot from the edge of the box that sailed right past Davis and into the upper 90. Dawson jumped on the opportunity Osterbind set her up with.
“I tried to turn quick and when I saw the opportunity I lifted it up,” Dawson said.
App State head coach Sarah Strickland praised Dawson’s game and said, “Ava played 90 minutes of super hard, aggressive soccer.”
Both teams locked in for a solid 25 minutes and the defenses went at it, neither one giving way– until the 88th minute when Osterbind made the play of the match for Appalachian State.
“It was great, I just didn’t want to go into another overtime or double overtime match. I’m glad we were able to finally finish it in regular time,” Osterbind said.
The transfer from UAB poked the ball away from a Davidson defender and broke free before firing the game winner into the top left corner of the net, causing The Mack to explode with delight.
“The atmosphere was great,” Osterbind said “They definitely gave us more momentum when we were tired and brought us up.”
For the last couple of minutes the Mountaineers put together a strong defensive stand and the Wildcats were unable to force overtime, giving App State their elusive first win.
“It feels great. I think this is our starting point, it’s our breakthrough and this will really help us moving forward,” Dawson said on the huge win.
Strickland was pleased with her squad’s performance and said, “The girls played hard. We’ve been playing really, really good soccer and creating opportunities and just not quite finishing opportunities.”
On Thursday night, App State made good use of those opportunities that they created and the Mountaineers were able to come out on top.
Next up for the Mountaineers is a three-game road trip, kicking off on Saturday in Wilmington against the Seahawks of UNCW. The match is slated to start at 7 p.m. Osterbind said the team will look to get ready for the stretch by simply “focusing in practice tomorrow, and then we’ll go
Story By: Silas Albright, Intern Sports Reporter
Photos By: Halle Keighton, Photo Editor