GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s soccer team secured a first round bye in the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament and remained in a first place tie with ETSU heading into the final game of the regular season after the Spartans posted a dominating 5-0 victory over visiting VMI Tuesday night at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
The victory improves UNCG to 9-6-2 overall and 6-2-1 in SoCon play, sitting in first place with 19 points. ETSU is tied for first with a 5-0-4 record in league play after a 1-0 overtime win at Mercer. The Spartans close out the regular season Saturday night on the road when they travel to SoCon rival Furman. ETSU will host Wofford in the final game of the regular season Saturday.
The Spartans controlled play throughout the contest against the Keydets to improve to 16-0-0 all-time against VMI. UNCG out-shot the Keydets by a 24-2 margin and held a 15-2 edge in corner kicks in the victory as VMI played the final 49:26 down a player after a red card was issued to Kasey Perea.
The Spartans came out of the gate quickly, generating shots from the start. Junior midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe (Milton Keynes, England) broke free in the box off a back-heel flick from junior Matteo Busio (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) in the second minute. Maguraushe ripped a shot on goal but VMI goalkeeper Jon Harrington was able to make a diving save to keep the game scoreless.
UNCG broke open the scoring in the 25th minute of play. Maguraushe got the ball 25-yards out in the middle of the field and found sophomore forward Faisal Almubaslat (Summerfield, N.C./Northern Guilford) just outside the 18-yard box. Almubaslat took his first touch and ripped a shot into the side netting past Harrington for the 1-0 lead and his third goal of the season.
The Spartans extended their lead to 2-0 in the 31st minute after a corner kick was initially cleared. Senior defender Nicholas Downs (Great Falls, Mont./Charles M. Russell) sent the ball back into the box where junior defender Josh Masten (Mount Pleasant, S.C./Wando) headed the ball from the back post back into play. Junior forward Alexander Lewis (Arden, N.C./T.C. Roberson) was there at the six-yard box and headed the ball into the back of the net for his first goal of the year.
UNCG extended its lead to 3-0 in the 36th minute of play with Maguraushe again setting up the goal. He got the ball in the middle of the field and laid off a pass for Busio who fired it from 18-yards out into the top corner for the Spartans’ third goal in 10:20 of the half.
The Spartans continued to bring the attack in the second half and extended their lead to 4-0 in the 68th minute of play. Freshman Nelson Oceano (Berlin, Germany) made a long run down the middle of the field and sent a ball wide to Payne McKiver (Austin, Texas/Stony Point), setting up a 2-on-1 for the Spartans. McKiver took his first touch and sent the ball across the goal mouth to junior Matt Mattis (Little Stoke, England) who deposited it into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the year.
UNCG closed out the scoring in the 78th minute of action. Freshman Manny Apau (Leominster, Mass./Southwest Guilford) made a run down the right-hand side and beat his defender, turning the corner. Apau sent a low cross into the box where Tyson Hichman (Asheville, N.C./West Henderson) was making a run. Hichman was able to get his foot on the cross and beat Harrington for his third goal of the year and the 5-0 lead.
Junior goalkeeper Jon Milligan (Mount Pleasant, S.C./Wando) notched his SoCon-leading ninth shutout of the season with one save in 90 minutes. Almubaslat led the team with five shots in 59 minutes of play. Harrington posted five saves in the loss for the Keydets who fall to 0-14-2 overall and 0-9-0 in league play.
-- UNCG --