MT. PLEASANT, SC – The old saying is a cat has nine lives. On Wednesday night, UNC Greensboro’s hopes for a Southern Conference regular season title three-peat were revived by No. 9.
Michael FitzGerald, the senior from Wilmington, NC who ironically switched his jersey to No. 9 this season, scored his second goal of the night and eighth of the season with 6:32 remaining in the second overtime to lift UNCG past College of Charleston, 2-1, in SoCon men’s soccer action.
FitzGerald scored from five yards out to break the tie and give UNCG some breathing room atop the conference standings. UNCG (9-5-1, 4-1-1=13 pts.) entered the game with a one-point lead in the standings, but having already played two more games than College of Charleston (8-6-1, 3-1-0=9 pts.). The Spartans left Patriots Point with a four-point advantage that was virtually necessary since the Cougars still having three games to play and UNCG with just one conference contest left. Had the teams played to a tie, the Cougars would have still gained an advantage as the teams would have still be separated by just one point.
The game-winner came after a Cougar foul near midfield. The ball was played down along the left side of the box, where Mike Richardson chased it down. Richardson crossed the ball to the front of the goal, where FitzGerald popped it into the net for the game-winner.
UNCG, which has now defeated the Cougars five consecutive meetings over the last four years, opened the scoring at 17:23 when FitzGerald scored off a feed from Richardson for the early 1-0 lead.
The Cougars tied the score at 74:52 on a goal by David Levine. Levine was battling two defenders as he approached the box on a run down the middle of the field. One of the Spartan defenders fell down in the mix, giving Levine just enough to get a shot off and just under the cross bar to tie the game, 1-1.
However, FitzGerald’s eighth tally of the season broke the tie and kept UNCG’s hopes alive.
College of Charleston held a 16-13 advantage in shots on goal, which UNCG had a 10-5 advantage in corner kicks. UNCG goalkeeper Nate Berry had 11 saves for the Spartans.
Including a penalty kicks decision over Virginia Tech in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have now won each of the last four matches that required overtime.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday night in their final home game of the regular season, hosting backyard rival High Point at 7 pm.
SCORE BY PERIODS
College of Charleston..0..1..0..0..- 1
SCORING: UNCG: FitzGerald (Richardson), 17:23; CofC: Levine (unassisted), 74:52; UNCG: FitzGerald (), 103:28. SHOTS: UNCG 13, College of Charleston 16. SAVES: UNCG 11 (Berry 11), College of Charleston 7 (Waller 7). FOULS: UNCG 21, College of Charleston 20.
- UNCG -