Gunnarssonís Goal Lifts Menís Soccer Over Furman For Third Time This Season
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG junior defender Eric Gunnarsson (Falkenberg, Sweden) scored the game’s lone goal in the 74th minute of action as the fourth-seeded Spartans advanced to the Southern Conference Tournament semifinals with a 1-0 victory over fifth-seeded and rival Furman Saturday night at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
The victory marked the third of the year for UNCG over the Paladins and ended Furman’s season in the quarterfinal round. The three wins over the Paladins marks the first time in program history UNCG has defeated its rivals three times in a year and improved the Spartans to 17-15-4 all-time against Furman.
The Spartans raise their record to 11-6-2 on the year with the victory and advance to the SoCon Tournament semifinals Thursday afternoon. The remaining SoCon Tournament will be played at the UNCG Soccer Stadium Thursday and Saturday. The Spartans will face top-seeded and regular season champion East Tennessee State Thursday at 3:30 p.m., while third-seeded Wofford will face second-seeded Mercer in the second semifinal at 6 p.m.
Sophomore forward Alexander Lewis (Arden, N.C./T.C. Roberson) had the game’s first prime scoring chance in the 29th minute of action. Lewis made a run down the left-hand side and beat a pair of Furman defenders. He ripped a shot from 10-yards out that Smith Furman goalkeeper Jonathan Smith saved and the ball hit off the goal post to keep the game scoreless.
Senior forward Damieon Thomas (St. Catherine, Jamaica/Georgia Military Institute) came close to scoring in the 59th minute of play as he was sprung behind the defense by a pass from Matteo Busio (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford). Thomas came in alone against Smith but his shot was thwarted by a kick save to keep the game tied until the 74th minute.
The Spartans out-shot Furman 13-7 in the victory, including a 7-2 edge in the second half as they controlled play throughout the night. The game-winning goal came in the second half as the Spartans were pressing the action against the Paladins and got a throw-in deep in the Furman territory.
Sophomore Austin Matthews (New Kent, Va./West Point) took the long throw-in and sent the ball into the 18-yard box. A Furman defender and sophomore Josh Masten (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) went up for the ball and the defender was able to flick the ball towards the back post. Gunnarsson was alone on the back post and volleyed the ball into the back of the net past Furman goalkeeper Jonathan Smith for his third goal of the year.
Sophomore forward Matt Mattis (Little Stoke, England) came within inches of giving the Spartans a two-goal lead in the 80th minute of action as he got behind the Furman defense. He was able to chip the ball over the on-charging Smith and the ball appeared headed for goal but it rolled just wide to keep the game in suspense down the stretch.
Senior goalkeeper Logan Rohde (Cary, N.C./Greensboro College) and the Spartans’ defense smothered Furman for much of the night in posting the shutout. Rohde recorded two saves in the clean slate while the Spartans’ defense limited the SoCon’s leading scorer, Lewis Hawke, to just two shots on the night.
-- UNCG -