Stengel's Late Strike Paces Pack to ACC Win at Pittsburgh
Sept. 15, 2013
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – With overtime looming, freshman striker Jackie Stengel played the role of hero Sunday afternoon for the NC State University women’s soccer team, scoring a goal in the 90th minute to give the Wolfpack a road Atlantic Coast Conference win at Pittsburgh.
Stengel collected the ball 25 yards from goal and created a scoring opportunity out of almost nothing, expertly using her body to shield the ball from a Pittsburgh defender and taking one positive touch towards goal. She then struck a dipping shot towards the far post which looped over the outstretched goalkeeper and into the side netting to give her side a precious 1-0 lead with 53 seconds to play.
Not only did the goal give the Wolfpack the lead, but it also secured the first ACC win for NC State (6-2-0, 1-1-0 ACC) since Oct. 20, 2011.
“It’s great for the student-athletes,” said head coach Tim Santoro. “The girls have put in a lot of work since I got here. You tell them things to work on and that they will be rewarded, and that there are good things at the end of the tunnel. This was great to see. They deserved to win today.”
NC State came out on top in total shots (14-8), shots on goal (6-2), and corner kicks (6-3) in the match. The strong offensive performance was anchored by a solid defensive display which limited Pittsburgh (4-3-1, 0-2-0 ACC) to just a handful of scoring opportunities.
When called upon, Mackenzie Stelljes (Charlotte, N.C.) was solid in goal, making two saves to record her third shutout of the season.
State controlled the majority of the possession in the early stages of the match, prodding for weaknesses in the Pittsburgh defense. The Wolfpack fired two shots and earned three corners in the first 11 minutes of the contest to keep the pressure on the hosts.
One of NC State’s best opportunities of the first half came in the 28th minute when a nice cross was whipped in from the right wing towards Stengel (Melbourne, Fla.). The freshman rose high right near the penalty spot and got her head on the cross, directing it towards the far post. At the last second, Pittsburgh goalkeeper Nicole D’Agostino made a diving save to parry it just over the crossbar and keep the match scoreless.
Stelljes came up with a huge save for the Pack just seven minutes later, making a diving stop on Katie Lippert’s free kick attempt in the 35th minute.
In addition to the usual minutes by Kaley Shlaes (Shaker Heights, Ohio), the Wolfpack went deep into the bench on Sunday, as Kasey Koballa (Wrightsville Beach, N.C.), Gladys Loyas (Goshen, N.Y.), Rachel Cox (Greensboro, N.C.), and Rachel Harris (Apex, N.C.) each played at least 22 minutes in the victory.
“We were able to play a few more players today off the bench, which I think gave us some energy,” Santoro added. “Credit to them, because they haven’t wavered in their work ethic and their commitment. I’m happy for them. They earned it today.”
A majority of the second half was spent in the midfield, as each team attempted to unlock the opposing defense without significant success. Caroline Gentry (Raleigh, N.C.) had one of the Wolfpack’s best chances in the second half, rising high amidst the Pittsburgh defense to direct a header low and on target. D’Agostino was there once again, diving low to make her fourth save of the match.
When the match seemed destined for overtime, Stengel came through in the clutch to give the Wolfpack the 1-0 win.
“It was just a last-minute effort to try and create a goal-scoring opportunity,” said Stengel. “I’ve been working on shooting from distance and placing the ball where the goalkeeper isn’t, and it found its way in.”
The Wolfpack continues its longest road trip of the season next week, as the team will play at Miami on Sept. 19 and at current No. 4 Florida State on Sept. 22.