BURLINGTON, N.C. – The UNCG men’s soccer team allowed three unanswered second half goals Saturday night as the Spartans dropped an intense 4-3 decision to rival Elon at Rudd Field in the regular season finale. With the loss, the Spartans finish the season as the third seed in the Southern Conference Tournament and will host sixth-seeded Georgia Southern next Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the SoCon Tournament quarterfinals.
Elon had the first quality scoring chance in the 32nd minute of action. The Phoenix put pressure on UNCG but the Spartans cleared the initial threat away. James Brace got the ball outside the 18-yard box and drove across the top before firing a shot to the top corner. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Stephen Moffitt (Burlington, N.C./Williams) was up to the task though as he dove to his left and punched the ball out of the corner and back into play to keep it scoreless.
The Spartans pressured as the half waned down as junior Austin Miller (Jamestown, N.C./High Point Christian) ran onto a long ball down the left-hand side. Miller beat an Elon defender and found Noah DeAngelo (Burlington, N.C./Bishop McGuiness) just inside the 18-yard box. DeAngelo spun off a defender and sent a cross into the box where senior midfielder Oddur Gudmundsson (Reykjavik, Iceland/Breidholti) ripped a one-touch volley past Elon goalkeeper Nathan Dean for his third goal of the season and a 1-0 UNCG lead.
UNCG came out of the halftime break and quickly took a 2-0 lead just 67 seconds in the half as it was awarded a free kick from 30 yards out. Sophomore Lukas Zarges (Freidrichsdorf, Germany/Phillip Reis Schulle) sent the ball into the box where Gudmundsson rose up and headed it past Dean for a 2-0 lead and his second goal of the game.
Elon responded right back, finding the back of the net just 22 seconds later to make it a 2-1 UNCG advantage. Reserve forward Cause Da Silva found some space in the box and poked the ball over the head of Moffitt to make it a one-goal game.
The Spartans continued to keep the pressure on Elon and retook a two-goal lead in the 58th minute of action. Freshman Hill Gwynn (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) made a run down the right side and laid the ball back to Zarges. He took the empty space at the top of the 18-yard box and ripped a left-footed bending shot past a helpless Dean into the top corner for a beautiful goal and a 3-1 lead.
The Spartans looked to be in good position with a two-goal lead with less than 30 minutes remaining in regulation, but Elon had a lot left to say in the game. The Phoenix took advantage of a UNCG misplayed back pass that allowed Jason Waterman to get in alone on Moffitt on a breakaway in the 62nd minute. Waterman was able to beat Moffitt one-on-one to make it a 3-2 contest.
The Phoenix tied the game in the 76th minute of play as they time Waterman set up the goal. He found Brace in the middle of the 18-yard box after a collision between two UNCG defenders. Brace took a shot form 15 yards out past Moffitt to knot the game at 3-3.
Elon completed the improbable comeback with the game-winning goal in the 88th minute of play. Waterman found some space in the right side of the 18-yard box and his shot was deflected off a defender, changing directions and getting past Moffitt for the 4-3 lead.
Head coach Justin Maullin will miss Saturday’s game due to an automatic one-game suspension after being assessed a red card in the Spartans’ overtime loss at No. 11 Virginia.
The Spartans finished the regular season with an 8-8-2 overall record and a 3-2-1 mark in SoCon play, finishing third overall. UNCG will host Georgia Southern in the first round of the SoCon Tournament Nov. 9 as the Eagles earned the sixth seed with a 2-4-0 record on the year. The Spartans posted a 2-1 victory over Georgia Southern in the regular season on Homecoming night when Dustin Gamradt (Kiel, Germany/Hebbleschule) scored two second half goals off the bench.
- UNCG -