The East Carolina University (5-6-2, 2-1-1 AAC) women’s soccer team will face the University of Houston (3-11, 0-4 AAC) on Thursday in Houston, Texas. This will give the Pirates the opportunity to improve their American Athletic Conference record, as well as their regular season record.
ECU will be looking to continue its two-game unbeaten streak while Houston will plan to net the team’s first AAC win of the season.
Historically, ECU has a 8-4-1 record against Houston, but has lost its last two matchups, once at home in Greenville and once away in Houston. Although the Pirates have a significantly better record than Houston, the Cougars could still come away with a victory.
"We have to be ready for a battle with Houston," Hamilton said. "We are at the point in conference where no one is mathematically eliminated, but some teams have to play with a little more desperation than others. That is what you saw from us last weekend and what I would expect to see from both opponents this weekend."
This past Sunday, ECU was able to upset the University of Memphis (13-1-1, 5-0-1 AAC) by ending the match between them in a tie, 1-1. Memphis was nationally ranked at No. 8 in the country during the match, but have since been moved down to No. 31, according to NCAA.com.
Head coach Jason Hamilton commented on ECU’s win in a post-game press conference.
“The past two games this weekend have been the best soccer we’ve played all year,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully that’s confidence going into the rest of the season. We’ve just got to come out and battle, ECU will carry the momentum from tying a nationally-ranked team into Thursday’s matchup.”
In goal for the Pirates, redshirt junior goalkeeper Melanie Stiles will be a key to the team’s success against the Cougars. Stiles was recently named the AAC Goalkeeper of the Week, acknowledging her defensive prowess in the net. She saved 10 out of 11 shots on goal against Memphis, and has six total shutout games on the season thus far.
“Mel is a great keeper and it really showed this weekend," said Hamilton. "She was a huge part of our success last season and really seems to turn it on in conference play. In both games this weekend, she made a couple of great saves and gives us a chance to win by keeping us in every game."
Junior midfielder Tori Riggs leads the Pirates in scoring with 10 points, four goals and two assists, a career-high. Along with Stiles, she was also won an AAC weekly award. Riggs was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Week, thanks to her performance against Memphis and the University of Tulsa (8-8, 2-4 AAC).
Thursday night’s match will begin at 8.