Frustration quickly turned to devastation for the University of South Carolina Beaufort women's soccer team on Friday, as the Sand Sharks controlled most of their match against visiting Milligan (Tenn.) before allowing a goal in the 86th minute for a 1-0 defeat at Fin Land Field.
The Sand Sharks (1-1-1) had ample scoring chances and dominated play in the second half, but Rebecca Buchanan's goal with 4:01 left in regulation was the only score of the afternoon.
"We started slow and got sucked into a fast-paced, direct style of play, which allowed some opportunities for Milligan early on," USCB coach Ed Heberling said. "Once we settled in and started to possess the ball, we were able to dictate the tempo of the game. We created numerous opportunities, but couldn't find the back of the net."
They found just about every part of the frame, though.
Senior Sinèad Byrne blasted a shot off the left post in the 33rd minute, and sophomore Jessica Tooley rocketed a shot off the crossbar in the 69th. The Sand Sharks only had seven shots on goal, but nearly all of them were legitimate scoring chances. Milligan's Lauren McInturff stopped promising headers from Kimberly Johnson and Olivia Dizon early in the second half.
The Buffaloes (1-0-1) broke the deadlock when Buchanan chased down a loose ball off a Milligan free kick and floated a perfectly-placed shot from the right wing that sailed just out of the reach of Chelsie Mummert, who had stopped all six of the Buffs' previous shots, including several highlight-worthy saves.
Although USCB didn't produce the result it wanted Friday, Heberling continues to praise his young team's play and is confident the Sand Sharks will capitalize on more scoring chances as the season progresses.
"Our team is starting to really jell and our players are improving their movement on and off the ball," Heberling said. "As we continue to grow and develop, we will create more opportunities and consistently find the goal. This is a great learning experience to keep us focused in the future."
The Sand Sharks continue their season-opening home stand Sunday, taking on Hastings (Neb.) at 1 p.m.