GREENSBORO, N.C.- It looked like UNCG’s men’s soccer team was on its way to stopping a six-game slide to High Point on Tuesday evening, but a 2-0 halftime lead came undone in the second half before the Spartans fell to the Panthers by a final of 3-2.
The Spartans are now 2-2-0 on the season and are facing their longest road trip of the year when they play at UTRGV this weekend.
“Basically it was a game of two halves, kind of like it has been against them for the last few seasons,” said Head Coach Justin Maullin. “We were far better in the first half, they were far better in the second half. We hadn’t given up a goal in three games in the run of play and gave up three goals in the second half tonight in the run of play.
“We have to do a better job of closing out games and do a better job of keeping the ball late in games and defending in the midfield.”
The Spartans got on the board less than five minutes into the contest as senior Alex Henderson, who was starting at center back, scored off a spectacular diving header that was set up by midfielders Cyril Owolabi and Moises Gonzalez on a free kick.
UNCG would double its lead more than 36 minutes into the frame as sophomore forward Tyson Hichman took advantage of a rebound off an initial shot from senior defender Casey Penland for his first goal of the season. It was his first goal of the campaign.
The first half was a fast-paced, physical affair, as the team teams combined for 10 shots and 13 fouls.
But unlike the first 45 minutes when the Spartans controlled play, it was the Panthers who took over the game in the second half scoring three goals including the go-ahead goal by Bana Ganidekahm in the 84th minute.
It was his second goal of the match as he also headed home a ball in the 74th minute off a cross from Tony Pineda. The Panthers’ first goal was netted by Ilias Kosmidis in the 64th minute. In total, UNCG goalkeeper Ricky Zarri faced 11 second half shots.
The Spartans will return to the pitch this weekend when they play UTRGV this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex in Edinburg, Texas.
Saturday’s matchup will be the second time the schools have met, as UNCG defeated UTRGV 2-0 on Sept. 11, 2015, at UNCG Soccer Stadium.