LEXINGTON, Va. – Freshman Kristen Whitehurst scored two goals, one in each half, to propel the VMI Keydets past the Delaware State Hornets, 2-0, in women’s soccer action Sunday afternoon at Patchin Field in Lexington. The win gave the Keydets their first two-match win streak since 2009 and their first clean sheet against a Division I opponent since Sept. 16, 2011.
The eventual game-winner came in the 37th minute, when Nicole Blixt sent a low, arching pass into the box from the left flank. Myranda Emery quickly found Whitehurst, cutting in from the right of DSU (0-4) goalkeeper Katelyn Koslosky, and the freshman tipped it home to give the Keydets a 1-0 advantage. The Keydets added on in the 86th minute, when Meredith Baldasare made a perfect pass from 20 yards out, finding Whitehurst cutting into space on Koslosky’s right once again. The freshman took three dribbles and drilled it by Koslosky, icing the second straight VMI (2-3) win.
On the defensive end, Emily Marbury pitched the shutout for the Keydets as, for the first time this season, VMI used just one goalkeeper in a game. Marbury moved to 2-2 with the win, as she was credited with four saves. Koslosky also logged four stops in a losing effort, as the Keydets won two straight for the first time since Oct. 2-4, 2009, when VMI defeated Presbyterian and UNC Asheville.
The statistics showed the evenly contested nature of the match, as both teams totaled nine shots. The Hornets, however, did hold an 8-4 edge in corners.
After a great deal of midfield play to begin the match, the first legitimate threat occurred in the 15th minute. Whitehurst had a chance to Koslosky’s left from just a handful of yards out, but a quick dive was good enough for the save and the game remained scoreless.
The visitors had a quality opportunity in the 28th minute. Off a Morgan Durham corner kick, Maria Gabriela Pinto angled a quality header toward Marbury, but the shot sailed high. The Keydets struck in the 36th minute. After five minutes with no offensive stats for either team, Blixt got the ball on a run down the left flank and was able to find Emery in the middle of the box. Moments later, Whitehurst found the back of the net for her first career goal and a 1-0 Keydet lead. That would be the score headed into halftime.
Marbury made the first save of the second half at 53:38, stopping Julia Bossert to preserve the 1-0 margin. The Hornets then had a near miss in the 62nd minute, when Taylor Pratcher had an open chance from 18 yards out and pounded the shot off the post to Marbury’s left. The ball was quickly cleared and VMI negated the DSU chance.
The Keydets countered in the 68th minute. After a yellow card gave VMI a free kick from 30 yards out, Emery served the ball into the box, but a Whitehurst header was mishit and the chance went for naught. The Hornets came back at 72:25, when Marbury stopped Danielle Valente, and Baldasare checked back in at 82:02. That substitution proved vital, as the sophomore notched the assist on Whitehurst’s 86th minute goal that sealed the 2-0 triumph.
"This was a great game for our whole team, including Kristen Whitehurst," said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. "This was what we expected and hoped for when we recruited her. The first goal was all hustle to get in on the ball from Nicole Blixt, and the second goal was similar to a near miss of hers from Friday's match. I couldn't be happier for her and this team, to work so hard in the second half and do such a tremendous job. Our back line stepped up, especially late, with Erica Putney, Sarah Putney, Sam Boney and Lizzy Cotter. They are getting better, playing better together and Emily Marbury was great behind them today in getting her first career shutout. In the midfield, Blixt played well as a target player and the others who substituted during the first half, Sydnie Bligh, Meredith Baldasare and Killian Buckley provided the impetus for our first goal. Across the board, we learned a lot from this match and, much like Friday's match, our opponent kept after us. Stepping off this field today with a 2-0 win feels tremendous, especially with a complete team win like this."
VMI women's soccer is back in action Friday, traveling to Newark, N.J. to face NJIT in a road matchup. Game time is set for 3 p.m.