Menís Soccer Posts Crucial 2-1 Victory Over SoCon Leader Mercer
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG men’s soccer senior forward Damieon Thomas (St. Catherine, Jamaica/Georgia Military Institute) scored the game-winning goal in the 74th minute as the Spartans picked up a pivotal 2-1 victory over Southern Conference leader Mercer Saturday night at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
The victory improves the Spartans to 4-2-0 in SoCon play with 12 points and into a tie for second place with the Bears. ETSU picked up a win Saturday over Wofford to take over the top spot at 4-1-1 with 13 points with four regular season games remaining.
The Spartans (8-4-2) came out quickly on ESPN3 as they looked to reverse the roles on the Bears from the first meeting. UNCG scored in the first 15 minutes Saturday night after Mercer had tallied two goals in the opening 15 minutes of play in the first meeting of the year at Macon.
Senior defender Hugo Coicaud (Le Havre, France/Saint-Joseph) sent a long ball into the 18-yard box where Thomas out-jumped Mercer goalkeeper Jeremy Booth and flicked the ball towards goal. Sophomore forward Alexander Lewis (Arden, N.C./T.C. Roberson) beat two Mercer defenders to the ball and slammed it into the open goal for his third of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Mercer (9-5-0) came right back and tied the game only 2:08 later as it took advantage of a UNCG miscue. Senior goalkeeper Logan Rohde (Cary, N.C./Greensboro College) misplayed a pass back to him and Emmet Johnson was able to muscle the loose ball away and score from 10-yards out into the empty net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Bears took some energy from their goal and had the game’s next best chance in the 42nd minute of play off a long throw in. Trenton Whitely sent the ball long into the box and the Spartans initially cleared the ball but Jake Mezei ripped a shot from the top of the 18-yard box where Rohde was there to smother the chance.
UNCG looked like it would take the lead into the locker room as it had the chance in the closing seconds of the half off a free kick. Sophomore Leeroy Maguraushe (Milton Keynes, England/Stantonbury) drove a perfect ball to the back post where classmate Josh Masten (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) slammed a header towards goal, but Booth made a spectacular save to keep the game tied at the break.
Sophomore midfielder Matteo Busio (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) had a chance in the 57th minute from the top of the 18-yard box but a Mercer defender was able to deflect his shot at the last second away from harm. The Bears came close in the 65th minute of play off a set piece but Whitely’s free kick from the top of the 18-yard box was saved by Rohde to keep the game tied.
The Spartans took the lead for good in the 74th minute as Coicaud and Thomas hooked up again. Coicaud sent a long ball into the box off a free kick from just inside the centerline. Thomas beat the Mercer defender to the spot and flicked the ball backwards past Booth and into the side netting for his conference-leading seventh goal of the year.
Rohde would have to make one more big save in the closing minutes as Mercer sent everything it had at the UNCG goal. Kobe Perez had a chance after a scramble in the box and ripped a shot from 20-yards out that seemed ticketed for the goal but Rohde made a sprawling save to deflect the ball out of play and preserve the victory.
Rohde finished with five saves on the night as he improves to 7-3-2 on the season. Booth recorded four saves in the loss for the Bears, which entered the game riding a three-game winning streak. The Spartans out-shot Mercer by a 15-11 margin, including a game-high four by Masten.
UNCG returns to play Tuesday night as it travels to Greenville, S.C., to battle rival Furman. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium.
-- UNCG --