GAFFNEY, S.C. – A penalty-kick goal from senior midfielder Lara Hallgrimsdottir (Kopavogur, Iceland) in the 64th minute would serve as the difference-maker for the Eagles in a 2-1 victory Wednesday evening against Limestone.
"As soon as the referee moved for the penalty kick, I just immediately thought that we needed to get Lara on that," Eagles coach Simon Duffy said postgame. "She had an absolutely beautiful finish to put us up. A very important goal and obviously a big win for us now moving forward to Saturday."
Hallgrimsdottir's two goals on her final campaign have both come via the penalty kick, where she is a flawless 4-4 in her career as an Eagle. The Eagles (9-4, 6-1 South Atlantic Conference) are 2-3 from the penalty spot on the season.
Play at Saints field began at a rather defensive pace, with only seven combined shots registered between both sides in the opening 45 minutes. It was Limestone (7-6, 6-2 Conference Carolinas) who opened the scoring, however, in the 32nd minute off the boot of senior defense Emma Hickson. A one-on-one situation from approximately 10 yards away against senior goalie Jasmine Rizk (Andersonville, Tenn.) would lead to Hickson crossing up Rizk to score her team-leading sixth goal on the year.
Heading into the break, Duffy said he and his team knew that what they had done in the first half wasn't going to warrant a result, and it was up to his squad to show up for the second period.
"We needed to come out with a different mentality," Duffy said. "Basically just to say, 'This game does mean something,' and we have to make sure that we win this second half and score some goals."
Duffy got his message across.
In the 56th minute applying more offensive pressure, Emilee Futrell (Wilson, N.C.) was able to possess and cross the ball from right to left into the 18-yard box where senior captain Delaney Griffin (Franklin, Tenn.) was able to knock it home to the left side of the net past Saints goalie Taylin Jean.
Eight minutes later, a penalty called on a Saints defender against Makayla Garner (Fort Mill, S.C.) would be the opening Hallgrimsdottir and the Eagles needed to earn the advantage, holding on to the win by only allowing three shots in the final half-hour to preserve the win.
It is the first win on the 2019 campaign where the Eagles came back from conceding the first goal to win.
Both teams only attempted seven shots on the evening, with shots on goal also tied at 5 apiece. It is the first time since Nov. 8, 2015 against Wingate that C-N has attempted less than 10 shots and come away victorious, with the 1-0 win against the Bulldogs coming at home at McCown Field. Assistant coach Julianne Herrity, a junior at the time, had the assist to Nikki McWilliams on the lone goal.
Four games into the five-game road trip, the Eagles are now 3-1 and remain at the top of the SAC table in sole possession of first place.
Duffy cited the regional rankings and potential resume building for the postseason that comes along with a road win against a quality team as reasons to be thankful for a well-rounded second half from the Eagles.
"So, so proud of the girls and now we have a bit of momentum going into the game on Saturday," he said.
A tall task awaits C-N this weekend as they travel to Catawba, who is only a week removed from knocking off Lenoir-Rhyne. Play in Salisbury, N.C. is set for 5:30 p.m.