LEXINGTON, Va. – The High Point Panthers broke open a close match with three second-half goals, two by Jenny Butler, and went on to defeat the VMI Keydets, 5-0, in Big South women’s soccer action Saturday afternoon at VMI’s Patchin Field.
After High Point (2-4-5, 1-0-1 Big South) took a 2-0 lead to halftime, Butler scored the first of her two goals in the 48th minute, a high, arching shot from 25 yards out. She would go on to add a second in the 54th minute, and the visitors notched the final score of the game in the 71st minute of the contest.
In addition to Butler, Taylor Parker had two goals and Jacky Kessler chipped in two assists for HPU. VMI (1-7, 0-2 BSC) had five second-half saves from its goalkeepers, playing two goalies during the game once again, and was led by Liz Affronti’s two shots in the setback.
High Point had several chances early, but it was VMI’s Affronti who posted the first official shot of the match, hitting a header wide left off a free kick in the 6th minute. The visitors then had chances in the 7th and 13th minutes, hitting crosses well into the box on each occasion, but VMI keeper Mackenzie Harrmann was able to cut off each pass and prevent any shots.
The Panthers got on the board in the 18th minute, when a Kelli Joline shot from the top of the box eluded Harrmann low, putting HPU up, 1-0. Kessler was credited with the assist on the play. HPU’s Janay Whittaker then hit the post in the 22nd minute, and the Keydets counterattacked with a shot on goal by Bridgette Pouliot at 25:16. The VMI attempt, however, was stopped by High Point keeper Ivy Cocklereece.
The visitors struck again in the 30th minute, when Parker won the ball off a scrum 20 yards out and quickly lofted a shot toward goal. The ball found the back of the net just over Harrmann’s left hand, giving High Point a 2-0 advantage. Harrmann was then able to make her first save of the match in the 34th minute, and the majority of the High Point shots shifted outside as the half drew to a close, with HPU still leading, 2-0.
That lead quickly grew just 2:32 into the second half, when Butler settled a loose ball and lofted a shot into the upper portion of the net, scoring from 25 yards out in the middle of the field and putting High Point ahead, 3-0.
Harrmann, however, stopped a Parker shot just 34 seconds later, and the Keydets had one of their best chances in the 50th minute. Off an Affronti corner kick, the ball was deflected in the box. It eventually went off the post and was played outside, where Erica Putney got a shot away that was stopped by Cocklereese, keeping the score 3-0.
Just four minutes later, Butler scored again on a virtually identical play to her 48th minute goal. It was a high, lofting shot for her third score of the season, making it a 4-0 contest. Kirsten Hancock relieved Harrmann, and got some help from her teammates in the 60th minute, when HPU’s Whittaker looked to have a sure goal on a shot from five yards out, just to Hancock’s right. A Keydet defender cut in behind Hancock, however, and deflected the shot away for a team save.
High Point wrapped up the scoring in the 71st minute, as Parker scored off a Kessler helper to account for the final margin. The Keydets had one more chance after a pair of corner kicks in the 78th minute, but a Courtney Mason try went wide and the final score was 5-0, High Point.
"My compliments to High Point,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “They possess a very dynamic front line group that gave us difficulty all afternoon, as long as that starting group was on the field. I felt at times we moved the ball very well against their midfield and into their back line, but we were unable to generate any real threatening chances. I feel I have a good, young group that is learning to play within the conference these first two matches, as we have played two of the best teams in the Big South."
The final stats showed High Point with a 26-5 shot advantage, with the VMI goalkeepers combining for five saves, three by Hancock in just over 36 minutes of action. Each team attempted six corner kicks on the afternoon.
VMI women’s soccer will return to action Thursday, as the Keydets open a two-match road trip by facing the UNC Asheville Bulldogs. Game time is set for 3 p.m.