Hackers lose heart broken at USF

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TAMPA, FLA. – In the AAC opener for both teams, the East Carolina football team faced defending champion South Florida, but the Pirates lost 3-2. in overtime Thursday evening.

“Really proud of the fight our ladies fought tonight,” said football head coach Jason hamilton. “There are no moral victories in the game, but I remember being on this pitch four years ago in my first season here and losing 4-0. We get along well and that’s a good sign.”

ECU falls to 4-5-0 on the season with an AAC record of 0-1-0 while South Florida improves to 5-2-1 overall and 1-0-0 in conference.

The Pirates only took one shot on goal in the first half, but they made it count. At the 20th minute, Haley McWhirter picked up a wandering South Florida pass around the center line. McWhirter jumped into the Bulls’ half and looked up to see South Florida goaltender Sydney Martinez out of his line. McWhirter threw a shot from 35 yards that flew over a retreating Martinez and into the back of the net for the opening goal.

East Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the second half and the Bulls began to advance in numbers looking to draw. For much of the second stanza, the Pirate defense held their own, despite South Florida taking 21 shots in the second half. However, the breakthrough for South Florida came in the 84th minute. After the ECU processed a first cross from South Florida, the ball fell on Lucy Roberts on the right side of the ECU box. Roberts fired a shot to the back post which slid just inside the post to tie the game.

It was just the start of a frantic 10-minute final. In the 87th minute, Tori Rigg found space on the left side of the southern half of Florida. Much like McWhirter in the first half, Riggs threw a long shot. Riggs’ effort on his right foot curled up on Martinez and in the upper right corner of the goal.

ECU’s second advance was short-lived, however. With less than two minutes on the clock, Sydny Nasello cut inside and fired a shot from above the Pirates’ box. Nasello’s shot was on target, narrowly escaping a dive Maeve English.

Both teams went into overtime and the frantic pace of the end of regulation time continued into overtime. South Florida landed two corner kicks, but the Pirates cleared them all. However, on the second, clearance only reached Chyanne Dennis. Dennis threw a cross into the Pirates’ penalty area. Emilee Lajmiri hit him and that was enough for Chloe Zamiela who brought him home for the game-winning goal in the 94th minute.

“This group that we have is special and capable of great things,” Hamilton added. “I don’t think they leave this game saying the season is over. I think this game motivates them. The feeling of losing a game this way, a game you lead twice, can push them to improve and move forward. “

South Florida finished with a 29-5 lead in shots and a 10-1 lead in corners. The Bulls held 76 percent possession and had a 7-2 advantage in penalties. English made four saves for the Pirates.

ECU will have a brief respite from AAC play when the Pirates travel to James Madison for the conclusion of a four-game road trip. The kickoff of this match is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

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