LEXINGTON, Va. – Freshman Erika Boggs scored in the 85th minute, providing the day’s lone tally as the VMI Keydets defeated the USC Aiken Pacers, 1-0, in women’s soccer action Saturday at VMI’s Patchin Field.
In a match that had gone back and forth all day, it was VMI’s (1-2) Sarah Putney who made a deep run into the corner of the USCA (0-1-1) box in the 85th minute. Putney got a strong shot off that was stopped by Aiken keeper Alli Edens, the fourth shot on goal of the day for the VMI midfielder. The ball then came free on a rebound, directly to Boggs’ feet for the tap-in game-winner.
"First, I would like to give Aiken a lot of credit for coming in and being very prepared for this match,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “I felt they gave us at times everything we could handle, with their ability to come forward and I felt that they defended well in masse in front of their goal. Saying that, I am proud of the way we played today, and would like to offer our players congratulations on the victory. They did not give up and continued to work on a very hot, humid afternoon, and after many chances in and around the Aiken goal, we finally found a way to serve the ball in and get it finished. Sarah Putney did a terrfic job of getting herself to the outside corner of the box and getting off a strong, low shot, with both Simone Jimenez and Erika Boggs there for the rebound, and Erika put it home. It was our first goal this year, her first collegiate goal and it could not have come at a better time. We also had good performances by Mackenzie Harrmann, who got her first collegiate shutout in goal, and Kacey Hall, who led the back line that kept Aiken off the scoreboard."
The contest was played under very warm conditions, with temperatures hovering well into the 80’s and humidity extremely high, due to moisture in the air from drizzle that occurred throughout the day. The game started off very slowly, with just two shots being attempted in the first 23:45. USCA had the day’s first shot on goal, an easy stop for Harrmann at 23:45.
Despite six corner kicks in the first 30:36, it was not until the 40th minute that VMI tested Edens for the first time. Sarah Putney had the ball about halfway into the Aiken box, to the right of the USCA keeper, and got off a low, hard shot. Edens tipped the ball away, but right back to Putney, who immediately put it right back on goal, only to be stymied by Edens again. The sequence then repeated itself, as Edens could not corral the rebound and, with the visiting keeper out of position, Putney had one more shot attempt, but an Aiken defender cut into the mouth of the goal and blocked the ball away for a team save, keeping the match scoreless.
The visitors then countered moments later, as in the 42nd minute, USCA’s Jenna Beauregard fired a shot from 25 yards out that hit the top half of the crossbar and just went over the net. That would be the final threat of the half, as the match went into the intermission scoreless.
The first half saw both teams attempt five shots, with three of VMI’s being on goal and one of USCA’s testing Harrmann. Aiken committed seven fouls to VMI’s four, while the Keydets held a 6-0 edge in corner kicks over the first 45 minutes.
VMI would open the second half by putting three shots on net in the first eight-plus minutes. The best of those tries came in the 53rd minute, when Erica Putney put a shot on goal that Edens sprawled to corral. The ball briefly came loose with Christelle Ndongo in the vicinity, but Edens recovered to grab the ball once more, preventing any further shot attempts.
After the early flurry, the game settled into play in the middle third, as both teams struggled to find footing on a pitch that had become quite slick. The next strong chance came in the 74th minute, and it was Aiken’s best of the day. Deirdre Ball sent a high, arching shot towards goal that Harrmann backpedaled towards and just got a hand on, tipping it off the bar and away for a save, preserving the scoreless tie.
The teams continued to battle back and forth, with Aiken controlling pace for a time beginning in the 82nd minute. The Pacers would try three shots in 1:11, but none were on goal, and VMI would counterattack by earning two corner kicks. The second of those kicks set up Sarah Putney’s drive into the box, and Boggs’ eventual game-winning goal. After the score, neither team would have another shot on goal the rest of the way, as the Keydets went on to post their first win of the season.
On the day, USC Aiken held a 16-11 edge in total shots, but the Keydets had eight shots on goal to just two for USCA. VMI would also out-corner kick the visitors 10-3.
VMI women’s soccer will return to action Sept. 9, taking in Old Dominion in a road matchup in Norfolk. Game time is set for 5 p.m.