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ECU lacrosse drops inaugural game

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East Carolina's Abbey Flynn, left, and Morgan Cheripko run onto the field before their inaugural game against George Washington at Johnson Stadium on Feb. 10, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Saturday, February 10, 2018

After nearly two years of preparation and anticipation, a little rain and a tough result did little to dampen the atmosphere surrounding East Carolina's first women's lacrosse game Saturday afternoon at Johnson Stadium.

George Washington handed the Pirates an 18-7 loss in the program's inaugural contest, weathering a couple of impressive stretches by ECU before peppering the Pirates with a barrage of goals late in the first half to pull away.

The contest came 23 months after the university announced the creation of the program in March 2016. An announced crowd of 584 people turned out to support the Pirates, braving intermittent rain to see the team’s initial contest.

“It was exhilarating to run out here in front of Pirate Nation for the first time wearing our purple and gold,” head coach Amanda Barnes said. “I think the girls understand that this is a special opportunity that they had today and we look forward to building from here.

“It was a great crowd. I really appreciated what Pirate Nation did coming out here today. We had great support from family and friends.” 

Barnes was hired in June 2016 and spent the last year and a half building the program from the ground up. The Pirates took the field Saturday with a roster of 27 that featured only four players who aren’t freshmen. That added up to a shaky performance at times against the Colonials — ECU had 16 turnovers compared to eight for George Washington — but the Pirates also showed some fight early that Barnes said left her impressed.

After a quick blitz of two GW goals in the first two minutes, midfielder Casey Sullivan stamped her spot in ECU history by becoming the first player to score for the Pirates. Sullivan, a freshman from Ellicott City, Md., cut the team’s deficit in half on a free position shot three and a half minutes into the first half.

“It’s almost emotional, really,” she said. “In the moment, I really wasn’t thinking about it. I was on the line just saying, ‘This has to go in. This has to go in.’ It’s pretty special. I think I’ll carry it with me forever, because that’s the first stat in history that will go down in the books.”

After another George Washington goal, attackers Nicole Legar and Ally Stanton tied it with consecutive goals within four minutes of each other near the midway point of the first half. From there, though, the Colonials landed a series of salvos on the youthful Pirates, scoring six goals in the final 13 minutes to take a 9-3 lead at halftime.

ECU scored three of the first four goals of the second half — two from Sullivan, one from Stanton — to cut its deficit to four at 10-6, but GW finished it off by outscoring the Pirates 8-1 in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think to see a young team to go on a couple of runs is really encouraging and it makes you think that if we could just put a few more of those together and maybe not have the mental lapses in our defensive transition, the score could have been a lot different,” Barnes said. 

Sullivan finished with three goals and added an assist. Stanton and Legar each had a goal apiece, and Lily Avazis had an assist. Goalkeeper Christina White made 13 saves in the loss.

The Colonials outshot ECU 37-21, including a 22-10 advantage in the second half, and were aided by a 9-3 advantage in turnovers in the second half, but Sullivan said the payoff of finally making it to the first day of the season was plenty of momentum to look ahead to ECU’s next game, which is Friday at Winthrop.

“I’m proud of our team for just coming out here and finishing our first game,” Sullivan said. “That’s definitely something to be proud about. We’ve been working our butts off all year long, and it’s just so crazy to finally come out here and play someone. I think we have a better idea of what we need to work on now, knowing what we need to fix and know what we need to do for the next game.”

The Pirates’ next home game is Feb. 21 against Liberty.


Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

Softball drops two

ECU’s softball team dropped a pair of games Saturday at the Felsberg Invitational in Miami.

Hofstra held the Pirates to three hits in a 4-0 victory in ECU's first game of the day. Tate McClellan, Ashleigh Inae and Tyler King each had a hit, but the Pirates struck out 14 times. Pitcher Erin Poepping struck out six and gave up eight hits in a seven-inning loss.

Game 2 saw St. Johns score five runs in the top of the first en route to a 9-1, six-inning victory. Meredith Burroughs drove in a run in the bottom of the sixth, but ECU had just four hits and committed three errors. Whitney Sanford (eight hits, eight runs in 5.2 innings) took the loss.

ECU (1-3) takes on Florida International at 1:30 p.m. today in the tournament's final game.