NASHVILLE, TENN. - UNCG men's soccer moves to the top of the Southern Conference after delivering the 2-1 defeat of Belmont on Tuesday night, keeping its perfect record in SoCon play in tact. After falling behind early in the second half, the Spartans were forced to deliver a come from behind victory, with Faisal Almubaslat collecting the penalty game-winner.
"...[I'm] very excited," said Head Coach Chris Rich after the match. "This conference is a difficult conference. Playing these games is not easy, so we were happy to be 1-0 after the weekend. But to turn around just 72 hours later, and drive the 10-hour bus trip to Nashville, and get three points on the road is huge. It's huge for our program, it's another step forward. Now we get to celebrate a little bit and then we head back tomorrow and start prepping for Wofford on Saturday."
With both sides trading shots in the opening 15 minutes, the Spartans would tally the first two shots on goal of the night, with Ethan Conley delivering a strike from 30 yards out that was sent across the endline by the Belmont keeper. Casey Penland forced the Bruins to make another save after back-to-back UNCG corners, but his header from inside the six lacked the pace to beat the goaltender.
Knotted at 0-0 going into the break, the second half saw three goals from the two competing squads, with Belmont delivering the go ahead off a corner opportunity in the 51st. The majority of the second half would belong to the Spartans however, with substitute Payne McKiver leveling things just four minutes later.
Receiving a ball over the top from defender Matthew Skinner, McKiver beat his mark to tuck away his first of the season, pulling the momentum back in the visiting side's favor with roughly 35 minutes remaining.
Increasing their pressure offensively, the Spartans drew their third penalty opportunity of 2019 after Faisal Almubaslat was taken down a stride inside the 18. The senior lined up for his first spot kick of the year, putting away the PK down inside the right corner, for his third tally of the season in the 72nd.
Attempting to tie things up, the Bruins pushed players forward in the final 18 minutes, forcing starting keeper Brendan Pulley to make a game-saving stop with less than three minutes remaining. A long throw in from the left sideline deflected off the Spartan defense before falling to an awaiting Belmont striker inside the six-yard box, but the forward's attempt was swallowed up by the freshman goaltender before his delivery was able to cross the goalline.
With UNCG's win the squad moves to 2-0-0 in the Southern Conference, placing them atop the current league table and one of just two SoCon squads that remain undefeated in conference play this season.
Three Things To Know
-- Pulley made a career-high four stops in Tuesday night's contest, he's surrendered just a single goal in the Spartans' two conference matches
-- McKiver's tally is the first of the junior midfielder's career, he's the eighth Spartan to find the back of the net in 2019
-- Skinner's helper was the first of the freshman's career, his season point-total moves to three on the season
COMING UP NEXT
The Southern Conference season continues into the weekend, as the Spartans come back home to host Wofford on Saturday at 7 PM. UNCG is 23-7-1 against the Terriers all-time, most recently defeating the side 1-0 in the first round of last year's Southern Conference tournament.
-- UNCG –