CHARLESTON, S.C. (CSU) - Victoria Fichman's golden goal pushed the host College of Charleston Cougars past Charleston Southern on Friday evening in both teams' season opener as CofC topped the Buccaneers, 2-1, at Patriots Point.
Chelsea Phillips connected on the tying goal at the 78:21 mark in regulation, answering a goal by Danielle Mellem to knot the game up at 1-1 and send both teams into overtime. After a scoreless first overtime period, Fichman took the rebound on a miss off the post by McCallie Jones and tapped the ball into the net for the golden goal to end the contest and help the Cougars retain possession of the Silver Cup.
"We played ten times better than we did last year," commented head coach Eric Terrill on the team's effort tonight. "I'm really happy with the way the girls played. It was a tough loss, but we just would not give in. College of Charleston is a really good team and they will be exceptional in the CAA."
Charleston Southern falls to 0-1 on the young season and heads to Blackbaud Stadium for their home opener on Monday afternoon as the Bucs host Francis Marion. Kickoff between CSU and the Patriots is set for 4 p.m.
"We had a great crowd tonight," commented Terrill on the fan support in the season opener at Patriots Point. "It's a good time to get behind a young squad. I couldn't ask for a better game for our team to prove ourselves and I think we did that tonight; and it needs to build into the next game, and the next game, and the game after that."
Mellem opened up the scoring in the second half at the 73:24 mark off of a great entry pass by Kate Twohig on the free kick. The free kick was lofted in from 32 yards out and bounced perfectly to a wide open Mellem in front of the net, and she chested the ball past the line for the opening goal of the night.
Charleston Southern answered less than five minutes later as Phillips connected on her first goal of the season and second goal in season openers in two years by one-timing a header from Toni Lashley into the back of the net. The blast came from the top of the goal box and knifed through the defenders into the upper left corner, not leaving CofC goalkeeper Eli Sarasola a chance to make a play on the ball.
Both teams goalkeepers proved up to the challenge early and often in the contest as CSU freshman Dana McLaughlin made her first start of her collegiate career and was able to corral seven saves on 28 shots in her first outing in the Charleston Blue and Gold.
"We had a couple of chances to put it away, but they have a goalkeeper with a lot of experience," said Terrill on the closing minutes of the second half. "We had a lot of kids out there tonight that are inexperienced and they just got better playing with each other as time went on and got more comfortable with themselves. Everyone made big contributions tonight, including Dana (McLaughlin) in her first game. I think she made some great saves tonight."
Sarasola proved to be her equal in the net on the other end, stopping two shots on goal while facing 10 CSU shot attempts in her first win of the season.
The Buccaneers and Cougars fought through a scoreless first half as the CSU defense held strong against several early challenges up the middle by Riley Narum and Mellem.
The Cougars had a trio of opportunities early in the first half around the 15 minute mark as Sarah Cardamone lofted three corner kicks into the box, but the Buccaneers defense backed by a save by McLaughlin kept CofC off the board. Mellem and Jones both had header attempts off the corners at the 16:12 and 16:40 marks, but McLaughlin knocked Mellem's shot over the crossbar and Jones' attempt also sailed high to keep the score tied at 0-0.
Narum had back-to-back shots in a span of two minutes from 20 yards out, but both attempts were snapped up by McLaughlin before the Bucs recorded their first shot attempt of the 2013 season. Toni Lashley was behind the attempt, launching the ball from 20 yards out, but her attempt continued to gain loft and sailed over the crossbar at the 25:18 mark.
Chloe Urig had the first shot on goal for the Bucs at the 32:41 mark as she slid into the box and attempted to poke the ball through the Cougars' defense, but her attempt went straight to the feet of Sarasola and was picked up to keep the match scoreless.
Two more close calls on CofC shot attempts came within the last 12 minutes of the half as Jones hurried an attempt over an advancing McLaughlin and sailed her shot high, while Francesca Kentimenos pushed a shot wide right, just past the post at the 37:55 mark.
The Bucs controlled the ball and the pace over the final five minutes of the first half, advancing the ball up the left wing behind the ball control of Gina Cox and Ashley Lowdermilk, but could not take advantage of a great cross into the box off of a free kick by Emma Faubert in the final two minutes as the teams went into the half scoreless.
Charleston Southern nearly got on the board early in the second half as Gina Thomas played in a cross from the right wing, but her pass intended for Lashley scooted both past the senior forward and Sarasola and out of bounds as the Bucs were unable to capitalize on the effort.
Mellem opened the scoring and Phillips quickly answered and both teams were held scoreless the remainder of regulation leading up to the scoring efforts of both teams in the second half.
Frankeny and Phillips both launched attempts in the final minutes, but Sarasola picked off Frankeny's shot and Phillips' attempt was deflected by the CofC defense to send the teams into the deciding overtime periods.
The overtime periods saw the Bucs and the Cougars trade possession and shot attempts all the way up until Fichman's golden goal.
College of Charleston held the 28-10 shot advantage in the contest and held the 9-2 corner kick edge in the game.