GREENSBORO, N.C. - Opening the Southern Conference season against VMI, UNCG men's soccer drove to a 4-0 victory on Saturday night, thanks in part to an Albert Pedra brace, and a shutout performance from the Spartan defense.
"Yeah [this win] is huge," said Head Coach Chris Rich after the match. "The non-conference season was definitely a bit of a battle for us. So for us, looking forward to SoCon play, it was crucial that we started off on a winning note. Tonight we had just that against VMI, so it was great to get three points for sure."
Opening play with four unanswered shots, the Spartans struck quickly against the Keydets, with Pedra putting away the first of his two markers in the 14th minute. The winger received a pass inside the attacking half of the field before making a run of 30-plus yards and sending a deflected shot into the bottom left corner.
Determined to get a second goal before the end of the half, UNCG's continued pressure led to an eventual PK opportunity in the 31st, where sophomore Micah Albert delivered a poised finish from the spot to put the Spartans ahead by a pair, before the break.
Delivering his third and fourth shots on goal in the first 12 minutes of the second period, Pedra completed his brace in the 57th minute off a cross from freshman Ethan Conley. The wing back used his pace with the ball to find some room on the left side of the attacking 18, delivering a cross just above the six yard box for the streaking Pedra, who tallied his second goal of the night, and his fifth of the year.
The scoring wouldn't stop for the Spartans however, with sophomore Matthew Cutler hooking up with freshman Cameron Fowler on a similar play in the 71st. Cutler supplied a low driven ball inside the box from the right wing for Fowler, who put away the first of his career in a UNCG uniform, first touch.
With the match already in hand, the Keydets upped their pressure in the waning minutes to try and get something out of the Saturday evening contest, but starting keeper Brendan Pulley would come up with a pair of world class saves to conserve his team's shutout and their first win in SoCon play for the current campaign.
"...Yeah the last two or three performances, we thought we played very well," said Coach Rich. "We thought we deserved more than we got. Part of that is learning how to win games, and learning how to really have that winning mentality, and we hadn't had that. Tonight we did. It was great to score four goals, I think we should have had more, but maybe even more important was getting our first clean sheet since George Washington in the first game of the year. That's huge for us, because when you go into conference play you can't concede goals. If you get clean sheets you'll win a lot of games. So it was great to score four goals, but probably even better to get the clean sheet."
Three Things To Know
-- Combining for three goals on the night, Pedra and Albert are now tied for a team lead in goals (5) and points (11)
-- The Spartan defense held the Keydets to just two shots on goal during the contest, with UNCG outshooting the visitors 26-6 overall
-- UNCG's shutout of VMI is their second of 2019, they've given up just two goals in their past three contests for a goals against average of just 0.66
COMING UP NEXT
The Spartans will get their first taste of the road this SoCon season, traveling to Nashville for a Tuesday night matchup at Belmont. UNCG has never lost to the Bruins in their program history, going 1-0-1 in the pair's two meetings overall.
-- UNCG –