BOONE, N.C. – The UNCG men’s soccer team picked up a pivotal Southern Conference road victory Saturday night as the Spartans notched a 2-1 victory over Appalachian State at ASU Stadium in Boone. The Spartans scored two second half goals and got a key penalty kick save from redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Stephen Moffitt (Burlington, N.C./Williams) to secure the victory to run their unbeaten streak to three straight games.
Appalachian State (2-3-6, 0-2-1 SoCon) had the game’s first chance in the 12th minute of action. The Spartans handled the initial pressure and cleared the ball out of the 18-yard box. Mountaineer defender Harrison Delbridge stepped up and ripped a scorcher from 30 yards out on frame, but Moffitt was up to the task, making a diving stab on the ball ticketed for the top right corner to keep it a scoreless game.
The Spartans best opportunity in the first half came in the 34th minute of play. Junior midfielder David Reittinger (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest) ripped a shot form 25 yards out that Appalachian State goalkeeper Danny Free was able to push over the cross bar to keep it scoreless.
The Mountaineers had the first half’s best scoring chance in the 43rd minute as they combined in the box with the cross to the back post was sent back into six-yard box. Stephen Chapman was alone six yards out and blasted the ball high over the cross bar.
UNCG (6-5-2, 1-0-1 SoCon) came out of the halftime break and controlled play from the start of the second half. The Spartans came within inches of scoring the first goal in the 48th minute as junior Justin Jones (Jamestown, N.C./Lees-McRae) sent a cross through the 18-yard box. Freshman Hill Gwynn (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) got on the end of the cross but pushed his shot from five-yards out just wide of the goal.
The Spartans kept the momentum going, finding the back of the net in the 49th minute as their pressure forced a corner kick. Reittinger took the kick and whipped the ball into the box. Senior defender Mahdi Ali (Helsinki, Finland/Vuosaaren Lukio) beat his defender to the ball and headed it into the side netting for his third goal of the season and the 1-0 lead.
Appalachian State had a prime chance to tie the game in the 56th minute off a set piece. The Mountaineers sent the ball into the box where Donovan Japp got a header on the ball from 10 yards out, only to see Moffitt there to smother the ball and keep UNCG in the lead.
The Spartans took a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute of action as Gwynn won the ball down the right-hand side and beat an ASU defender before sending the ball into the box. Sophomore Noah DeAngelo (Burlington, N.C./Bishop McGuiness) brought the ball down in the box and spun around his defender before beating Free near post to give UNCG a 2-0 lead.
Appalachian State looked like it would get back in the game in the 71st minute as it was awarded a penalty kick after UNCG was called for a foul in the box. Delbridge stepped forward for the Mountaineers and rocketed a shot towards the bottom left corner, but Moffitt played it perfectly and made a diving save to keep ASU off the board. The save was his second penalty kick save of the season as he thwarted a kick from the spot against Longwood.
The Mountaineers pushed down the stretch trying to get back into the game. Delbridge had another chance in the 85th minute as he got a head on the set piece and glanced it off the outside of the post.
Appalachian State finally broke through in the 89th minute, scoring with 1:02 left in regulation to spoil the Spartans’ clean sheet. The Mountaineers sent a long ball into the 18-yard box where it fell between Moffitt and an UNCG defender. Matthew Melton got to the loose ball in between the two players and poked it into the back of the goal to make it a 2-1 contest.
The Mountaineers made it interesting in the final minute as UNCG was called for a foul in its half. Appalachian State sent the ball into the 18-yard box where Delbridge got his head on the ball but pushed it wide of the goal on the final chance of the night.
Moffitt posted seven saves in the victory as the game marked the first victory for UNCG this season when they allowed a goal. The Spartans’ previous five victories have come by a shutout. Free was charged with two goals in the loss as he made four saves for ASU.
The Spartans return to action Tuesday night as they host SoCon foe Davidson. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
- UNCG -