Hermann candidate Scott Jones tallies three assists as UNCG wins
GREENSBORO, NC – Hermann Award candidate Scott Jones recorded a career-high three assists and Michael FitzGerald scored twice as UNC Greensboro jumped out to a comfortable lead and had to hold on late for a 5-3 win over Georgia Southern in the Southern Conference men’s soccer opener for both teams.
With the win, UNCG (6-3-0, 1-0-0) is now unbeaten in its last nine and 17 out of 18 SoCon regular season matches. The nine-game unbeaten string dates back to October 2003.
In a match-up of two of the top offense in the nation this season, UNCG jumped out to three-goal lead midway early in the second half and looked to be cruising to victory before Georgia Southern got its engines firing on all pistons. The Spartans, ranked 14th in the country in goals per game, took a 1-0 lead on Jokull Elisabetarson’s tally off Jones’ first assist of the night at 34:37.
The score remained that way until the opening minutes of what would be a wild second half. FitzGerald, a redshirt junior from Wilmington, NC, scored his first of the season just 4:26 into the second half and freshman Thomas Campbell stole an errant pass and deposited it into the net for his second goal of year just 2:13 later to give UNCG a 3-0 lead.
After UNCG keeper Jay Benfield came out of the game with 30 minutes to play, Georgia Southern, the 15th ranked offense in the country, got things rolling. Stephen Jensen lofted a ball on a free kick into the box, the rebound came out of a crowd and Patrick O’Brien blasted it into the net from 15 yards out to get the Eagles (5-3-1, 0-1-0) on the scoreboard.
Then, at 72:11, UNCG’s second keeper Chad Dickerson committed a foul when he pushed a Georgia Southern player while chasing a loose ball in the box. The resulting penalty kick was scored by Lawrence Smith to make it a one-goal game.
UNCG made it a two-goal game again when Jones found FitzGerald with a through ball in the box and he scored with it for his second tally of the night at 75:32. However, just 66 seconds later, a UNCG defensive breakdown provided Scott DeVault with a wide-open backside of the box and a shot from 15 yards out rolled into the net to make it 4-3.
But Hermann Award candidate Randi Patterson put the game away for good at 86:12 when Jones played another through ball and Patterson chased it down in the box, made a fake to his left and went to the right for an open-net tally. The goal was his ninth of the season for the junior from Hackensack, NJ, and the 39th of his career moving him ahead of Eddie Radwanski and into ninth place on UNCG’s all-time goal scoring list.
With the three assists on Saturday night, Jones, a junior from Dallas, TX now has 27 in his career, which puts him into a tie for eighth all-time at UNCG along with Kenny Bundy (1999-2002) and Mike Sweeney (1981-83).
UNCG will hit the road for a Tuesday afternoon match at Appalachian State, the last place the Spartans lost a Southern Conference regular season match. The game will get underway at 3 pm.
SCORE BY PERIODS
Georgia Southern...0..3..- 3
SCORING: UNCG - Elisabetarson (Jones), 34:37; UNCG - FitzGerald (Atlason; Jonason), 49:26; UNCG - Campbell (unassisted), 51:39; GSU - O'Brien (Jensen), 63:29; GSU - Smith (Penalty kick), 72:11; UNCG - FitzGerald (Jones), 75:32; GSU - DeVault (Jensen), 76:38; UNCG - Patterson (Jones), 86:12. Shots: Georgia Southern 12, UNC Greensboro 23; Saves: Georgia Southern 10 (Webb 9; TEAM 1), UNC Greensboro 6 (Dickerson 4; Benfield 2); Corner kicks: Georgia Southern 4, UNCG 3; Fouls: Georgia Southern 18, UNCG 16.
– UNCG –