LEXINGTON, Va. – The Longwood Lancers used a 66th-minute goal by Kelsey Pardue to break a scoreless tie and went on to defeat the VMI Keydets, 1-0, in women’s soccer action Sunday afternoon at Patchin Field in Lexington.
Midway through the second half, Pardue took a pass just on the VMI side of the field, very close to the middle of the pitch. She dribbled around a VMI (3-3-1) defender, found space and accelerated to the top of the box, to the left of Keydet goalie Amanda Berrios. Pardue’s shot was pushed to the lower left of the goal, a skimmer that beat Berrios and gave the Lancers a lead they would not relinquish.
On the day, Longwood (3-4-3) held a 26-2 edge in shots, including 11-2 in shots on goal. Berrios made 10 saves, however, to keep the contest within reach. It was the third time in the last four contests that the senior has posted double-digit saves, marking just the second time in program history that a VMI keeper has achieved that feat, as Jessica Rheinlander did so four times in five games during the 2004 campaign.
The game began under overcast skies, with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. The Lancers pushed the pace immediately, creating several chances towards the net, but were unable to take advantage. Berrios made the first save of the match at 9:12, stopping a Kelsey Lucas try, and an open shot for Mackenzie King 48 seconds later was pushed just wide.
The VMI netminder then turned aside Kacie Oliver at 17:02, setting the stage for a quality chance. Just outside the 18-yard box, a Longwood player was fouled, resulting in a dangerous free kick. Oliver blasted the ball just over the wall, but Berrios leapt at the last moment and tipped the ball over the crossbar, preserving the 0-0 deadlock.
As the first half progressed, most of the play continued to be in the midfield, with Longwood frequently possessing the ball in VMI’s section of the pitch. The Lancers struggled to get off quality shots, however, as the Keydet defense blocked three shots in the middle portions of the period. The visitors would get another try on goal in the 44th minute, as King tested Berrios again, but the VMI keeper was up to the task and made the save, sending the match to halftime scoreless.
Longwood held a 13-0 edge in shots in the first half, with Berrios being credited with four saves during the opening 45 minutes.
The opening moments of the second half saw an early Keydet opportunity, as Myranda Emery sent a quality cross into the box toward Sarah Putney. Lancer keeper Kyra Byron came off her line and intercepted, thwarting the chance and helping Longwood start a counterattack. In the 51st minute, a Kelsey McDonald try was turned aside by Berrios, while Pardue had an open shot from the top of the box at 52:25, but the Lancer forward pushed it wide right.
The pressure from the visitors continued, as in the 56th minute, Nikki Glisson made a run into space well inside the box. She fired a shot from Berrios’ right to left that appeared to have the VMI keeper beat, but it clanged off the post and away, keeping the match scoreless. Three minutes later, Dylan Spicker forced another quality save from Berrios, as she made a sliding stop after a quick pass in the box.
The Lancers’ next quality chance resulted in the game’s only goal, as after two corner kicks, the Keydet back line cleared the ball. A Longwood midfielder, however, was able to retrieve and find Pardue, who maneuvered in for the eventual game-winner. It was her second goal of the season, and was the first score given up by the Keydets since the first half of Sept. 11’s tie with St. Bonaventure, a span of 224:19.
Longwood would have one more offensive push, highlighted by a shot off a 74th minute corner kick. The corner was drilled to the far side of the box, over Berrios’ head, but the VMI keeper made a diving save to stop a Samantha Phillips try, keeping it 1-0.
Over the final 13 minutes, VMI was able to generate offensive pressure and chances. In the 78th minute, Simone Jimenez attempted to chip the ball across the box to an open Sarah Putney, but Byron intercepted the effort. Gabby McCarron had a shot in the 84th minute, a try from distance that was easily fielded by Byron, and in the 85th minute, a Sarah Putney corner kick that appeared to be headed for several VMI players in the box was grabbed by Byron instead. From there, Longwood was able to run out the clock and preserve its victory.
Pardue led the Lancers in shots with six, while Byron made two saves for the visitors. In addition, Longwood held an 8-3 edge in corner kicks during Sunday’s match.
“I think that despite what the stats show, the balance and patience that we had allowed us to limit Longwood, with their high work rate and solid team play,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “I felt that over the last 10-15 minutes, we were able to put pressure on their goal, but we just could not quite find the tying goal. I think we are a growing team that will learn from our mistakes today, and this game will help us build for the next month, leading into conference play and what we can do there. I am very proud of Amanda, and she has really become a dynamic goalkeeper. I was also very pleased with Liz Affronti and Simone Jimenez today, as I thought they both showed tremendous composure and control for us on the field, in the different positions they were asked to play.”
VMI will return to action Friday, Sept. 23, as the Keydets play host to Mount St. Mary’s. Match time is set for 4 p.m.