Keydets Down Saint Peter's, 3-1
Courtesy: for VMI

LEXINGTON, Va. - Two freshmen scored in the first half, and Emma Quirk put the game away with a goal in the 89th minute as the VMI Keydets defeated the Saint Peter's Peacocks, 3-1, in women's soccer action Saturday in Lexington, Va.

After a scoreless first 33 minutes, a pass from Blake Cashin found Juliet Esnardo on the right side of the box. Esnardo played a cross that found Amber Risheg, who beat SPU (0-1) keeper Taylor McLean to give VMI (2-2) a lead it would not surrender. Onika Hammond added a goal less than two minutes later, and after a 77th minute own goal cut the Keydet lead in half, Quirk scored on a breakaway with 85 seconds to go to cap the win.

What was a 2-0 VMI lead at halftime could have been even larger, but two shots - one in the 31st minute and one in the 45th - were drilled off the crossbar and the Keydets had to be content with the two-goal lead. It nearly became three just 21 seconds into the second half, but an SPU defender made a team save on an Esnardo try.

A kick save by VMI goalkeeper Ceci Keppeler in the 56th minute preserved that two-goal lead, and the game settled into midfield play until the 77th minute. That was when Carlee Gonzalez drilled a shot from about 12 yards out to Keppeler's right. It deflected off the shoulder off a VMI defender and into the net for an own goal, and Keppeler was forced to leave the game after suffering an injury attempting to make a spectacular save.

The own goal cut the margin to 2-1, but VMI used offensive pressure to limit any further SPU chances. The Peacocks managed just one shot the rest of the way and Quirk notched her second goal of the year in the closing seconds to provide the winning margin, 3-1.

For the match, VMI outshot SPU 20-8 and held the Peacocks to just one corner kick, while VMI earned five. Keppeler made four saves for the Keydets while McLean posted seven for the visitors.

VMI women's soccer will return to action Thursday, when the Keydets play host to Saint Francis (Pa.). Opening kick is set for 4 p.m.