Wilmington, N.C. – Sophomore Jewel Evans landed the game winner in the 108th minute to lift the Georgia State women’s soccer team (7-12-1, 4-6-1 CAA) to a 2-1 victory over UNC Wilmington (3-16, 1-10 CAA) Sunday afternoon. The triumph allows the Panthers to end their 20-game schedule on a high note, as the victory puts them at ninth place in the final conference standings of the regular season.
“The entire game today was exciting and culminated with an intense ending,” said head coach Domenic Martelli. “I’m very happy with how the entire team played. It has been a long time since we have not played a great game and not deserved to win. Today we deserved to win and I think that came through. In our previous games we had a lot of bad luck, but today in our season finale everything finally went our way.”
Sophomore Sarah Bennett tallied the first score for the Panthers thanks to an assist from senior Lindsay Mortellaro. Bennett’s goal as well as Evans’ represented the ninth of the season for them both. Senior goalkeeper Kellianne Collins had a stellar performance with eight stops to give her a final career-save count of 178. Both teams had a hot foot, creating a total of 41 shots throughout the four period contest; however, Georgia State held the edge in the shots column 22-19.
“Our seniors had such a great outing in their final performance,” commented Martelli. “Kellianne made two huge goal-saving stops. Lani (Huntley) played one of her best games of the year anchoring the defense. Bri (Cagle), playing basically on one ankle, gutted out as many minutes as she could in both halves. Erinique (Owens), doing what she does so well, was solid in the midfield. Taylor (Parks) and Lindsay (Mortellaro) gave us some great minutes and generated some huge chances.”
The first 10 minutes of the match were slow on both sides as neither team could generate a shot. Parks opened shooting for GSU in the 12th minute with a shot on goal that was scooped up by the Seahawks’ keeper.
Georgia State got five more shots off in the remaining 33 minutes of the half but none found the back of the net. Despite firing eight shots in the first half, UNC Wilmington was unable to penetrate the Panther defense and both teams entered halftime scoreless.
“Our core defenders, Alyssia Feronti, Briana Pitre, and also those that came off the bench, Sydney Miller and Elizabeth Kinsel, did a great job to keep a solid back line,” said Martelli. “Everybody that subbed in added a different type of energy and I don’t think UNC Wilmington could handle that. We were throwing different weapons at them.”
The first goal of the match was scored 18 minutes after the intermission by UNC Wilmington’s Stephanie Rose. Down by one, Georgia State fought for the equalizer. In the 68th minute, Mortellaro broke away to result in a one on one situation with UNC Wlimington’s goalkeeper. She buried a shot but the keeper dove to make a one-handed save and deny GSU the go ahead goal.
Soon after her first opportunity, Mortellaro blasted another shot on goal that was deflected by the keeper. Bennett was in the middle to collect the ricochet and sent it past the goal line to knot the score at one goal apiece.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in regulation, Bennett tried for the game-winning goal with three more shots but all were just wide of the post. UNC Wilmington had some unsuccessful attempts to retake the lead as the clock ticked to zero and the Panthers entered their fifth overtime match of the season.
Albeit shots from Bennett, Evans, and redshirt-sophomore Jordan Young in the first overtime, GSU played through 10 minutes of extra time without landing the winning score.
With Panthers’ 22nd shot of the game at the 107:54 minute mark, Evans recorded the game winner. On the play, Evans maneuvered through two Seahawk defenders to gain control of the ball. She sped 20 yards down the field to send a chip shot over the goalkeeper’s head and into the goal to secure Georgia State the 2-1 victory.
“Today was just one of those situations where everything we did gave us more energy,” said Martelli. “It has been a lot of hard work that has been played out in these 11 conference games. Our determination showed through, not only in the seniors who lead us, but everyone else working hard to send off our seven seniors with the right result.”