GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s soccer team ran its unbeaten streak to five-straight games Saturday night as the Spartans stayed unbeaten in Southern Conference play with a commanding 2-0 victory over No. 21 Furman at the UNCG Soccer Stadium. The victory moves the Spartans to 1-0-1 in league play this season heading into their home contest Tuesday night against Wofford.
The victory marked the fifth-straight shutout for the Spartans and ran their shutout streak to 532:65 as UNCG has not allowed a goal since Sept. 9. The Spartans kept the league’s top-scoring team off the board, only allowing nine shots for the Paladins. The win also marked the fourth-straight in the series against Furman after posting a 3-0-0 mark last season against the conference rivals.
The Spartans (4-4-2, 1-0-1 SoCon) got on the board just 3:24 into the game as their counter attack put Furman into trouble. Freshman Thordur Johannesson (Hafnarfjordur, Iceland) made a run down the middle of the field and sent a ball to the top of the 18-yard box. Freshman Nelson Oceano (Berlin, Germany) beat Furman goalkeeper Ben Hale to the ball and slipped a pass into the box to sophomore Faisal Almubaslat (Summerfield, N.C./Northern Guilford).
Almubaslat ripped a shot towards the open goal that Hale had vacated but Furman defender Zack Jackson blocked the shot with a handball and was issued an immediate red card as the last defender sending the Paladins a man down. Junior midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe (Milton Keynes, England) stepped up to take the penalty kick and calmly beat Hale low for his second goal of the season and the early 1-0 lead.
Furman (7-3-0, 1-1-0 SoCon) responded to the red card and generated some chances shortly afterwards. The Paladins best chance came in the ninth minute of play off a free kick as they sent a ball from 40-yards out into the box. Laurence Wyke got a head on the ball and sent it to the far corner destined for goal, but junior goalkeeper Jon Milligan (Mount Pleasant, S.C./Wando) made a sprawling save to punch the ball out of harms way.
The Spartans extended their lead to 2-0 in the 25th minute of play with some slick passing. Senior defender Nicholas Downs (Great Falls, Mont./Charles M. Russell) sent a long ball down the left-hand side, breaking Oceano behind the defense. Oceano one-touched a pass into the box where Almubaslat was making a run. Almubaslat timed his diagonal run perfectly, poking the cross through the legs of Hale for his first goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.
Wyke had a couple of chances late in the first half but Milligan and the Spartans’ defense held strong. Milligan posted a save in the 28th minute of Wyke and Oceano cleared a ball off the goal line on a corner kick in the 34th minute of play. Downs had a great chance on goal in the 37th minute of play for the Spartans, ripping a shot from 19-yards out on goal but Hale made a diving save to keep it a two-goal cushion.
The Spartans settled in during the second half and controlled the tempo of play. UNCG held Furman out of the dangerous zones for most of the second half as its midfield play dictated the pace of play. The Paladins didn’t threaten in the final 45 minutes of play as UNCG kept its shutout streak intact. Milligan finished the game with three saves to lower his conference-leading goals against average to 0.67.
-- UNCG --