GREENVILLE, S.C. - UNCG men's soccer saw their three-match winning streak come to an end on Tuesday, falling to the hosting Furman Paladins by a final of 1-0. Recently named Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Week Brendan Pulley made a career-high six saves to keep the evening's score even through the first 85-plus minutes, before the home side delivered the game-winning marker.
"Tonight was a battle," said Head Coach Chris Rich at the end of the match. "Furman are a difficult team to play against. I didn't think we were great in the first half, we made a couple of slight adjustments at halftime and had a better second half. We had a couple of great chances to win it late, but unfortunately didn't capitalize. Conceding in the 85th minute is difficult to take, especially off a long throw, but I am proud of the guys. They definitely left everything out there."
The Spartans were outshot 4-3 in the first half, but it would the latter 45 minutes that presented the visitors' best chances of scoring on Tuesday night. With less than 13 minutes remaining on the clock, Manny Apau and Matthew Cutler engineered a counter attack that nearly clinched a 'smash and grab' scenario for Head Coach Chris Rich's side.
After receiving a pass from Cutler behind the Furman defense, Apau sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal for teammate Albert Pedra. Pedra's attempt would be turned away by the Paladin keeper however, with the follow-up volley from Payne McKiver turned away as well, to keep the score at 0-0.
The momentum appeared to be in the Spartans favor in the final 15 minutes, with Pulley making his sixth and final stop of the night in the 81st. The UNCG offense would respond to their keeper's effort by pressing for a goal on the other end and drawing a foul just outside the left of the 18. Freshman defender Ethan Conley challenged the Furman defense with an off-angle shot that seemed destined for the far corner, but was pushed just wide of goal.
With the Spartans unable to capitalize on their late chances, the hosting side would come up with a game-winner in the 86th minute, clinching a 1-0 win and ending UNCG's current SoCon win streak at three.
Three Things To Know
-- Brendan Pulley has made 13 saves in his four Southern Conference starts thus far, giving up just two goals for a GAA of .50 and a save percentage of .867 during that span
-- All six of the Spartans' attempts at goal came from different players, with Albert Pedra and Payne McKiver recording the lone two shots on net
-- At 3-1-0 in conference, UNCG moves back to second in the SoCon table, with Furman standing as the last undefeated squad in 2019
COMING UP NEXT
The Spartans face their final road contest of the season with a Saturday kickoff at ETSU. UNCG is 4-6-5 against the Bucs all-time, working to a scoreless draw against the side in their last meeting, on October 13, 2018
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