Freshman Eduarda Pavao scored two goals and assisted on a third to lead the Stetson women’s soccer team to its third straight win, a dominating 3-0 victory over East Tennessee State (6-7-1, 2-3-0) on Sunday afternoon.
The Hatters (6-6-2, 4-1-1) moved into second place all by themselves with the win giving them 13 points, behind only Florida Gulf Coast. Stetson’s 4-1-1 league record is the program’s best start to conference play since starting 5-0-1 in 2006, and the second best ever.
Having won both game of the weekend, and defeating Northern Kentucky on the road last Sunday, Stetson is amidst its first three-match winning streak since 2010. Throwing last Friday’s draw against Lipscomb into the mix puts the Hatters on a four-game unbeaten streak, also the longest since 2010.
“I’m really, really proud of the effort we put in as a group today,” Stetson head coach Manoj Khettry said. “They’ve been fantastic. They’re a group that anything we try to implement makes sense to them. They are great learners, they try really hard to pick things up quickly, and today was just a fantastic performance in terms of here’s what we need to do, here’s how we need to play, and they went out and executed it.”
Like on Friday, Stetson was on the offensive from start to finish against the Buccaneers. The Hatters outshot ETSU 24-9 for the game, and held a 15-5 advantage at halftime. Stetson also recorded 10 corner kicks to just six for the Bucs.
The Hatters first got on the scoreboard, however, in the 28th minute of play when Pavao put away her first of two first half scores. Senior Alyssa Welsh carried a ball deep into Buccaneer territory, and crossed it into the box. Pavao controlled it and beat goalkeeper Anna Yancey to give Stetson the lead.
Less than eight minutes later Stetson took a two-goal advantage when Pavao was at it again. This time it was freshman Paige Law stealing the ball from an ETSU defender trying to clear the ball on the sideline. Law took a touch and quickly crossed the ball in from the left and found Pavao, who headed it past Yancey to make 2-0 in favor of the Hatters.
“We just created chance after chance,” Khettry said. “Duda scoring a great first goal, Paige ripping off their back, getting her head up, and putting a ball right on Duda’s head for the second, and the third one – Duda was once again responsible. She laid a perfect ball back for Mara who stroked it in from the top of the box.”
Affectionately referring to Pavao by her nickname, Khettry had great things to say about the freshman, who has now scored three goals and recorded one assist in just five games for the Hatters. Khettry also referenced Stetson’s third goal of the game, coming off the foot of sophomore Mara Keomanivane.
Midway through the second half Stetson was able to get one of its many crosses into the box. This one found Pavao, who then played it back to Keomanivane. The sophomore midfielder one-time it past Yancey for her first score of the year, giving the Hatters a decisive 3-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Stetson defense played a stout 90 minutes, allowing just nine shots and only two on target. Senior Victoria Troccoli made the two saves to keep Stetson on top, recording her fourth shutout of the season in the process.
The Hatters will continue league play next weekend, traveling to Kennesaw State on Friday and Mercer on Sunday. The Owls and the Bears are currently in fifth and fourth place in the conference, respectively. Stetson will conclude regular season action at home on Oct. 26 hosting league-leading FGCU.