East Carolina University’s soccer team suffered a pair of losses over the weekend to its first two conference rival opponents in the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida.
The Pirates knew coming into Sunday’s match they would have to bring their “A” game in order to compete with a nationally ranked No. 15 UCF team. However, according to head coach Rob Donnenwirth, lack of communication between the coaching staff and players resulted in miscommunination on the field.
“We tried to change things a little bit for the players we had out there on how we wanted to defend,” Donnenwirth said. “But obviously that failed miserably because a few people didn't realize what they were supposed to be doing even though I thought they knew in practice.”
The Knights opened the floodgates when forward Kayla Adamek scored the first goal of the game off an assist from forward Dina Orschmann to put UCF up 1-0 in the 14th minute.
“They played around us pretty easily in the beginning and we just didn’t have our mojo today,” Donnenwirth said.
Less than five minutes later, Adamek struck again with a breakaway goal after escaping three Pirate players to put the Knights up 2-0.
Things did not get better for ECU as the game went on. Orschmann scored from 25 feet away to put the Knights up 3-0 in the 22nd minute, and followed it up with her second goal later in the second half to put UCF up 4-0, ultimately being the final score.
Sunday’s loss is the first time ECU has allowed four or more goals in a match all season. Despite out shooting UCF 11-10 for the game, the Knights didn’t allow a single shot on goal to the Pirates during the first half.
“We struggled controlling the ball (and) passing the ball; that was our big thing,” Donnenwirth said. “The team with the ball that has it is going to make the other team work and that was our goal and we struggled to do that. When you’re playing a good team like that you have to play on all cylinders and we just weren’t today.”
Instead of a blowout loss like Sunday’s against UCF, the Pirates suffered a hard 2-1 defeat in the opening game of conference play against USF.
ECU struck first when midfielder Ashley Kendrot scored off a rebound from her own shot attempt to put the Pirates up 1-0 in the 25th minute. USF answered in the 38th minute as forward Leah Ferlin scored a header goal off a corner kick from midfielder Andrea Hauksdottir to bring the Knights even at 1-1.
When it looked like the game was heading into overtime, UCF midfielder Katie Kitching shot a long pass into the box from 10 yards out that found the back of the net and put the Knights up 2-1 with 1:39 remaining, which ultimately sealed the Pirates’ fate. The lack of competitiveness in the second half is more of the reason why the Pirates lost the game, according to Donnenwirth.
“That last goal wasn’t the reason we lost,” Donnenwirth said. “The momentum was going their way and the way that game was going, we were just hanging on. It was a mental breakdown on that last goal, but to me it was the compete level during that whole half which led to that goal.”
With back to back losses, ECU now falls to 5-4-2 on the season and its once undefeated home record is now broken and falls to 3-2-2. Since Kendrot’s goal against USF, the Pirates have allowed six unanswered goals over their past two games.
The Pirates take on the Temple Owls Thursday at 6 p.m. followed by the Connecticut Huskies Sunday at 1 p.m.