ASHEVILLE, N.C. - UNCG men's soccer (2-4) delivered its best offensive performance of the season on Wednesday night, as a pair of braces from Faisal Almubaslat and Micah Albert helped secure a 5-1 victory at UNC Asheville (1-4-1).
"The guys were excellent tonight, specifically in possession and going forward," said Head Coach Chris Rich in postmatch. "We've been working on our attacking organization quite a bit in training recently and you saw a lot of that come to life tonight. Micah [Albert] and Faisal [Almubaslat] were definitely standouts, along with Matt Cutler. I'm very happy for them."
The Spartans controlled pace of play throughout the first 45, jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute. Playing up the wing, sophomore Matthew Cutler found space on the right side before delivering a low cross to an awaiting Almubaslat. The forward provided an easy finish into the bottom right corner, collecting his first goal of the season in his first start of 2019.
Nelson Oceano nearly doubled the Spartans' lead just 10 minutes later, but the midfielder was denied by the UNCA goalkeeper on a shot from inside the 18.
Freshman Matthew Skinner garnered the first goal of his career during the 24th, when the midfielder lost his mark on a corner opportunity and drove a free header into the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead.
The Spartans went back to work out of the break with a pair of shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the second. Almubaslat came within inches of completing the brace in the 56th after getting in behind the defense, but the Bulldogs' keeper made a well timed jump off his line to keep the differential at two.
The recently joined forward would not be denied a multi-goal performance however, scoring his second of the night during the 74th. Almubaslat picked up possession 10 yards into the attacking half before beating a pair of defenders at the edge of the 18 and pocketing the Spartans' third goal of the afternoon.
The junior rounded out a five-point performance with an assist on UNCG's fourth finish of the night, delivering a cross to an open Micah Albert inside the 18 to move the score to 4-0 less than three minutes after his own tally.
Asheville went on to deliver a late goal in the 78th, but Albert would increase the differential back to four on a second assist from Cutler. The Spartans' five goals tie for their largest winning margin since putting up a 6-1 win over Wofford in 2017, as the side collected its first road victory of 2019 on the night.
"I think we are disappointed to not get the clean sheet, but I am very happy with the performance and result," said Rich. "This was a team win... Now we have to quickly rest up, and prepare for a very good App State team."
Three Things To Know
-- Almabuslat's two goals and five points were a new career-high, bringing his career total to eight and 20
-- UNCG's performance against the Bulldogs marks the first time the club has had two separate players collect a pair of braces in a single match since beating VMI 8-1 (10/26/16)
-- Sophomore Matthew Cutler assisted on three of the Spartans' five goals, tallying the second start of his career and his first of 2019
The Spartans have a quick turnaround with a Saturday home contest against visiting App State. UNCG dropped its previous meeting with the Mountaineers 1-0 in 2018, but held a four-match win streak against ASU prior to that loss.
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