GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG freshman forward Thordur Johannesson (Hafnarfjordur, Iceland) picked an opportune time to score his first career collegiate goal Saturday night as he scored the game-winning goal in the 107th minute of double overtime to lift the UNCG men’s soccer team to a huge 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten and defending Southern Conference Tournament champion Mercer on the road in Macon.
The victory moves the Spartans into second place in the SoCon standings at 2-1-1 with seven total points, just one point out of first place (ETSU, 2-0-2), while dropping the Bears to 2-1-1 in league play. The Spartans continue their stretch of road games Tuesday afternoon as they travel to Lexington, Va., for a meeting with VMI at 4 p.m.
The Spartans scored the game’s lone goal late in the second overtime to snatch three points from the Bears on the road. UNCG put pressure on the Bears’ defense and forced a throw-in deep in Mercer territory. Junior defender Austin Matthews (New Kent, Va./West Point) took the long throw-in and junior Josh Masten (Mount Pleasant, S.C./Wando) out-muscled his defender to the ball and flicked a header towards goal. Johannesson got in front of his defender and poked the ball past Mercer goalkeeper Jeremy Booth for the game-winning goal at the 106:32 mark of the game to send the Spartans into celebration.
Junior goalkeeper Jon Milligan (Mount Pleasant, S.C./Wando) recorded five saves in the victory, posting his SoCon-leading seventh shutout of the year. Milligan lowered his league-leading goals against average to 0.71 on the season and bounced back from his first loss in league play last time out. The Spartans are now 5-1-1 in their last seven games, with six of those games coming by shutout.
The teams battled back and forth for most of the night as the game was tied 12-12 in shots and UNCG held an 11-9 edge in corner kicks. The Spartans controlled possession for most of the game though, generating chances through their midfield throughout the game. Freshman Nelson Oceano (Berlin, Germany) had an early chance for the Spartans in the 16th minute as he drove across the top of the 18-yard box but Booth was able to smother his low hard shot.
Mercer had one of its best chances in the 54th minute as Leonel Toledo found space from 15-yards out but sophomore defender Casey Penland (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) made a lunging block of his shot to thwart the effort. Milligan was able to pounce on the rebound before Toledo could muster much on the shot to keep the Bears off the board.
The Spartans made a push late in the second half as their speed started to create issue for the Bears. Freshman Manny Apau (Leominster, Mass./Southwest Guilford) had a chance off a header in the 72nd minute of play and junior midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe (Milton Keynes, England) had a chance in the 73rd minute off a corner kick but Booth was able to make saves on both attempts to keep the Spartans at bay.
Milligan came up big late in the game on two different occasions to give the Spartans their chance for victory. He stoned Mercer’s leading scorer Will Bagrou in the 81st minute from 15-yards out and his best save came in the first overtime. Rooby Dalusma ripped a header from 12-yards out on goal but Milligan was there to preserve the shutout and setup the Spartans for the golden goal celebration.
-- UNCG --