The University of South Carolina Beaufort women's soccer team fell short in its bid for a huge upset but battled second-ranked Embry-Riddle (Fla.) to the end in a 1-0 defeat Sunday at Fin Land Field in Bluffton.
USCB (4-7-1, 1-3 Sun Conference) got another fantastic effort from its revamped back line with freshman center backs Poppy Miller and Bridgette Noonan helping keep the Sand Sharks in it until the final whistle.
"What an exciting match for our developing program," USCB coach Ed Heberling said. "This week the team bought into the team concept and it showed in our last two matches."
The only goal of the game came in the 42nd minute, when speedy forward Valerie Obita found some space up the right side and sent a cross into the box for Isabelle Haaranen, who placed it into upper-left corner for her third goal of the season.
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The margin might have been much wider if not for a stellar effort by USCB goalkeeper Chelsie Mummert, who turned away 10 shots -- many of them on spectacular saves. Mummert and the USCB defense were especially strong on set pieces, keeping the Eagles out of the net on 15 corner kicks.
"I felt today we improved upon Friday's efforts (in a 2-0 loss to Thomas) and had so many positives to build on moving forward," Heberling said. "The team realized how good they could be on Friday and stepped up their performance even more today."
The Sand Sharks only forced Olivia Lynch to make two saves -- both on free kicks from Megan Benoist -- but they had several more scoring chances turned away by Embry-Riddle's strong back line. The Eagles have posted six shutouts during their eight-game winning streak and have allowed only two goals over that span.
The Sand Sharks look to continue their strong play when they travel to Florida next weekend for key Sun Conference games at Webber International at 3 p.m. Friday and at Warner at 2 p.m. Sunday.
"This was a total team performance, and it's hard to pick out any one player from the weekend to spotlight," Heberling said. "I am excited to see the team come together the next few days of training in preparation for our next two matches."