Menís Soccer Battles Past UNCW 2-0 In Downpour
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s soccer team battled not only its opponent, but Mother Nature Saturday night as the Spartans picked up a hard-fought 2-0 victory over visiting instate foe UNCW at the UNCG Soccer Stadium. The Spartans scored two second half goals during torrential rains, which rolled into the Triad during halftime and continued the final 45 minutes.
“Tonight was a hard-fought, tough and gritty performance by our team,” head coach Justin Maullin said. “We got back to playing the type of soccer that got us off to a 3-0 start and a national ranking as we turned in a complete team performance on the defensive end. This was a much-deserved victory as we battled the entire 90 minutes. Our work rate and resiliency battling, not only a quality opponent, but the weather was fantastic.”
The Spartans had the first quality scoring chance of the game in the eighth minute of action off a corner kick. Junior David Reittinger (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest) sent the ball to the top of the 18-yard box where sophomore Lukas Zarges (Freidrichsdorf, Germany/Phillip Reis Schulle) ran onto it and ripped a shot through traffic but it rolled just wide of the far post.
UNCW came right back in the ninth minute with a strong chance of its own. The Seahawks sent a through ball down the left side where Jacob VanCompernolle found some room. VanCompernolle took the shot form 15-yards out that went across the face of the goal and wide of the far post to keep it a scoreless contest.
The Spartans had a pair of scoring chances in the 20th minute of action as their pressure forced a couple of corner kicks. The second corner kick in the sequence saw senior Oddur Gudmundsson (Reykjavik, Iceland/Breidholti) rise above the defenders on the back post and send a header across the grain to the near post. Gunmundsson’s shot was cleared off the line by the Seahawk defender, but the clearing attempt came out to senior Mahdi Ali (Helsinki, Finland/Vuosaaren Lukio) who struck a shot from 16-yards out wide of the goal.
The Spartans and Seahawks went into the locker room in a scoreless tie as the two teams each notched seven shots in the first 45 minutes. UNCG held a 4-1 edge in corner kicks and had its best scoring chances in the light rain come off those set pieces.
The torrential rain moved into the area as play began in the second half and slowed the play of the game for most of the second half. UNCW had its best chance of the game late in the half in the 78th minute of play as Jamie Dell found space from 10 yards out and ripped a shot towards goal, but redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Stephen Moffitt (Burlington, N.C./Williams) made a diving stop to keep the game knotted at 0-0.
The save ignited the Spartans on the field and on the bench as they noticeably took control of the tempo from that point forward.
The Spartans’ increased work rate led to their first goal in the 81st minute of play. Sophomore Noah DeAngelo (Burlington, N.C./Bishop McGuiness) was a sent down the right-hand side by a long ball and his speed created an opening to send a cross into the box. Senior forward Brian Graham (Bowie, Md./Bowie) was making a back-post run and knowing chances were at a premium in the game, took a diving header at the ball sending it past UNCW goalkeeper Sean Melvin into the back of the net for the game-winning goal as his teammates mobbed him on the field.
UNCW had its backs to the wall down a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining so the Seahawks tried to push forward in the closing minutes. The Spartans took advantage as the UNCW defenders pushed forward when Gudmundsson won the ball in the midfield and quickly sent a long ball up to sophomore forward Dustin Gamradt (Kiel, Germany/Hebbleschule) who was in behind the defense. Gamradt took the perfect outlet pass and was in alone on the UNCW goalkeeper. He calmly waited for Melvin to make a play on the ball and poked it past the on-charging goalkeeper into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
The victory moved the Spartans to 4-3-0 on the season and snapped a three-game skid for UNCG, which had opened the season with three straight victories. Moffitt recorded two saves in the victory on his way to his fourth shutout of the season.
The Spartans continued their three-game home stretch this week hosting Winthrop and Longwood in non-conference play. UNCG welcomes in Winthrop Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the UNCG Soccer Stadium in its next game.
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