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Saager gets 3rd goal of season in Wolfpack win

By Kip Coons
Correspondent

RALEIGH It took five games, but somebody besides a freshman finally got a goal for the N.C. State women’s soccer team.

Junior forward Brittany Stanko and senior midfielder Jessica Baity scored their first goals of the season, and freshman forward Kayla Saager got her third plus an assist as the Wolfpack downed visiting Coastal Carolina 3-0 on Thursday night at the Dail Soccer Field.

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for N.C. State (2-3) and snapped a three-game winning streak for Coastal (3-2). Second-year coach Tim Santoro didn’t think his Wolfpack was as solid as it was in a 2-1 loss Sunday at Maryland, but he liked the result.

“We were a little sloppy tonight,” said Santoro, whose Wolfpack plays at William & Mary on Sunday.

The Wolfpack got a big lift early from Stanko, who combined with fellow junior Caroline Gentry, a Leesville Road High product, for the first goal four minutes after play resumed following a 50-minute suspension for lightning in the area during the first half.

Gentry played a long ball out of the midfield down the left flank to Stanko, who had entered the match midway through the half as a substitute. Stanko controlled the pass, beat her defender one-on-one 12 yards out and rolled a shot past Coastal goalkeeper Faith Farley to the far post with 10:49 left in the half.

“We were just trying to get the ball forward,” Stanko said. “She headed it, and I ran off her. I stepped in front of a defender to win it, then finished with my left foot in the far corner.”

“She’s an attacking personality,” Santoro said of Stanko. “Her speed and ability to go to goal are important. But we need a more complete performance from all our attackers.”

Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Stelljes made the goal stand up with four fairly routine saves for State in her fourth career shutout and first this season. Farley had three saves for Coastal, and Becca Austin added two in the final 30 minutes as State outshot the Chanticleers 20-10.

Freshmen have carried the scoring load for the Wolfpack so far, netting five of the seven goals in five matches. State’s offense has also been limited because of injuries. Last year’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Jackie Stengel, missed her second game with a knee injury and isn’t expected back for a couple of weeks. Alexa Allen, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Auburn, has played in only one game because of an ankle injury. She had two assists in the 3-1 season-opening win over UNC Wilmington but could return next week.

Saager made it 2-0 with 10:24 left in the match. Gentry’s cross from the left flank was misplayed in front of the goal by a Coastal defender, and the ball dropped to Saager’s feet. She easily converted from eight yards.

Baity, who was denied by Farley from close range in the first half, made it 3-0 with 1:11 remaining on an assist from Saager.

“I looked over my shoulder and saw the defender, and my teammate Jess was screaming for the ball,” Saager said.

Santoro said he wasn’t worried that his veterans had been shut out until Thursday. “I just want goals,” he said. “If we weren’t scoring at all, I’d be concerned. And any team that loses two of its top asttacking players, you just don’t replace them that easily.”

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