A fast and aggressive N.C. State women's soccer team quickly built an insurmountable lead against an injury-depleted East Carolina squad on Wednesday night, erasing the chance for a Pirate upset in front of an energetic crowd packed into Johnson Stadium, the fifth-largest ever at the venue for soccer.
N.C. State won 5-2 behind three goals during the first 16 minutes. Tziarra King guided a quick-strike offense for the Wolfpack (5-3-0), finishing with two goals and three assists thanks to her seven shots.
It was 4-1 at halftime.
ECU soccer was trying to follow the Pirate volleyball team's lead after a 3-2 comeback win by the Pirates over N.C. State in Raleigh last week, but the soccer matchup between the rival schools was dictated by N.C. State's offensive charge.
"It was an exciting game for the fans to see seven goals, and that is always the knock on soccer is that it is boring, but we don't want to be on that end of seven goals," Pirate coach Jason Hamilton said.
ECU (3-4-1) was 3-1 in its last four matches, scoring a key 1-0 victory at Charlotte on Sunday for its third shutout in Hamilton's second season.
Aside from the early flurry of goals by State, which already had an early-season win over top-10 opponent Georgetown, an important sequence happened late in the first half.
Jenna Dages brought life to her ECU teammates and fans when she followed her unconverted penalty kick by running up for the rebound after a save, and she pounded a volley off a bounce into the back of the net to make it 3-1 Wolfpack. Her second goal of the season came in the 28th minute.
But the visitors turned their pressure back up, and Leyah Hall-Robinson converted a goal on a pass from King to make it 4-1 with about 15 minutes remaining in half.
"It felt good that even when we were down, our fans kept cheering us on," Dages said. "We didn't come out as strong as we should have. ... (The first goal) did kind of spark us and get us going, because we buried ourselves into a hole. My whole goal was to get some momentum going."
Madie Knaggs scored for East Carolina in the second half.
The Pirates' next three matches are on the road, including next Thursday versus Connecticut and next Sunday against Temple to begin American Athletic Conference play.
"We have to learn, because that is not the best team we will see this year and there are better teams in our conference," Hamilton said. "If you give teams more respect than than they deserve, then you are never going to beat them. We were just too deep (on defense) when you look at some of their goals, and most of them came from inside our box."
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.