After inclement weather and COVID-19 canceled their first three games, Charlotte's women's soccer team played their first game of the season on Wednesday when they faced Western Carolina. It was in a losing effort, however, as the Niners fell in overtime 1-0.
"We had three or four good opportunities which, hopefully, on another day, we take one of those and go on to win the game," said Head Coach John Cullen after the game.
Charlotte nearly scored their first goal of the season in the game's opening minute when Sophie Sipprell almost scored, but the shot went off the crossbar and out. Julia Patrum also had a shot go off the crossbar in the 11th minute, which didn't score either.
The second half was a defensive match as both teams combined to shoot only five shots, three of which came from Patrum. Aliyah Milicia almost scored in the final minute of the second half for Western Carolina, but Abby Stapleton stopped it, earning her fourth save of the game.
After 90 minutes of play, the match required overtime to decide the winner. Overtime would not last long as Western Carolina scored the lone goal in the 94th minute from Maryanne Kilgore, who scored off an assist from Maggie Lloyd.
Patrum and Stapleton performed well for Charlotte despite their efforts ending with a loss. Patrum, who was awarded Preseason All-Conference USA, led all players with five shots, four of which were on target. Stapleton, a four-year starter, earned five saves in the game.
Despite the loss, Coach Cullen was just happy to play after the season was postponed to the spring and multiple game cancellations that delayed the start of their season.
"It was great to finally play again after such a long layoff," said Coach Cullen. "For us, it's back to work tomorrow and learn from our first game and where improvement is needed."
Charlotte returns to Transamerica Field when they host UNCW for their home-season opener on Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.