GREENSBORO, N.C. – Redshirt sophomore forward Dustin Gamradt (Kiel, Germany/Hebbleschule) scored two second half goals in a span of 7:20 to lift the UNCG men’s soccer team to a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Georgia Southern in front of 1,678 fans on Homecoming night at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
Gamradt’s two goals wiped out a 1-0 advantage the Eagles held since the 29th minute of play and improve the Spartans to 3-1-1 in Southern Conference play to move into second place in the standings. Additionally, it assures the Spartans of finishing in the top four of the standings, which secures either a home game in the first round (seeds 2-4) or a first round bye (one seed) in the SoCon Tournament.
“Tonight was a very proud moment of our guys,” head coach Justin Maullin said. “The first half was probably our worst half of soccer we have played this year. In the second half, our guys continued to compete and when we went to two strikers up top, it changed the game for our team. It is great to send our seniors out with a victory on senior night. This is a very special group – our first group as a staff that we brought it. We are very proud of all they have accomplished and continue to accomplish for UNCG.”
Gamradt’s two goals raise his team-leading total to five on the year and three in SoCon play. He has scored his five goals despite only taking 12 shots on the year as a reserve forward.
The first half saw both teams battle tough in a defensive battle before the Eagles scored the game’s first goal in the 29th minute. Eric Dinka made a run through the midfield and fed Hunter Norton on the right side of the box. Norton was able to beat redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Stephen Moffitt (Burlington, N.C./Williams) low for his fourth goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans (8-6-2, 3-1-1 SoCon) regrouped at halftime and came out of the break with the decided advantage in the run of play. UNCG started to be dangerous in the 58th minute of play as it repeatedly put the Eagles under pressure. Sophomore Lukas Zarges (Freidrichsdorf, Germany/Phillip Reis Schulle) made a run behind the Georgia Southern defense down the left-hand side. Zarges stopped on a dime and dropped it off to junior David Reittinger (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) who ripped a shot from 15 yards out that was blocked by an Eagle defender.
The Spartans kept attacking and seemingly on the same attack had another strong chance in the 59th minute. This time sophomore Noah DeAngelo (Burlington, N.C./Bishop McGuiness) made a run down the right-hand side and found Austin Miller (Jamestown, N.C./High Point Christian). Miller took a shot from 16 yards out that was saved by Neal Bates to keep the Spartans off the board.
UNCG finally broke through in the 68th minute of action. Senior midfielder Oddur Gudmundsson (Reykjavik, Iceland/Breidholti) sent a through ball behind the GSU defense where it found Gamradt alone against Bates. He quickly pushed the ball around the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to tie the game and send the crowd into a frenzy.
The Spartans kept attacking and fed off the season-high crowd of 1,678 fans takng the lead just over seven minutes later in the 76th minute of play. This time, freshman forward Hill Gwynn (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) put a Georgia Southern defender under pressure and won a 50-50 ball in the midfield to spring himself down the right-hand side. Gwynn whipped a cross into the box where it found Gamradt, who was able to strike it past Bates for his team-leading fifth goal of the year to cap off the Homecoming celebration.
Moffitt made the one-goal lead stand with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game as Georgia Southern threatened on a corner kick. The Eagles whipped the ball into the box where it came perilously close to going into the goal but Moffitt was there to save a point-blank shot from Jeremy Rector to preserver the thrilling victory.
Prior to the game, the Spartans honored their senior class with a pregame ceremony recognizing Preston Ford (Jamestown, N.C./High Point Christian), Brian Graham (Bowie, Md./Bowie), Oddur Gudmundsson (Reykjavik, Iceland/Breidholti) and Mahdi Ali (Helsinki, Finland/Vuosaaren Lukio) along with student-manager Nathan Baker.
The Spartans step out of SoCon action Tuesday night as they travel to Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia. Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Charlottesville.
- UNCG -