Manyama, Berry lead UNCG past Duke, 2-0, in NCAA tournament
DURHAM, NC – Behind Tebatso Manyama's goal and assist, UNC Greensboro kept its Cinderella story alive by defeating host Duke, 2-0, on a chilly night in the first round of the 2008 men's soccer NCAA tournament.
The Spartans moved to 9-11-2 as they extended their season and magical late-season run, while the Blue Devils ended their season with a 10-8-2 record. The Spartans are just the sixth team in the 50-year history of the NCAA Tournament to make the field with a sub-.500 record, but are the second straight to do so and win a first-round match. New Mexico did in 2001, defeating Florida International.
It was Manyama second-straight heroic performance. The senior from Johannesburg, South Africa had the game-winner in UNCG's 2-1 win over College of Charleston last Sunday, scoring just 57 seconds after the Cougars had tied the game.
""This means the season's not over yet," said Manyama. "I said it when the bracket was announced and everybody said we were the only team with a losing record, we won the last three games and it's tournament time, anything can happen. One goal can win it. We're not being cocky about it, but tonight we're going to celebrate."
The Spartans, appearing in the tournament for the fourth time in the last five years, will face the ninth seed in the tournament, Loyola (MD), on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. in Baltimore. UNCG has won at least one game in the tournament in each of those four appearances. The Spartans advanced to the Round of 16 in each of the three previous appearances.
"We have gone from one of the most hapless, hopeless [UNCG] teams I have possibly ever had at midseason to a team that is determined, organized, disciplined and wants to win," said UNCG coach Michael Parker after his team presented him with career win No. 487. "It's unbelievable the change from midseason to now. You wouldn't recognize this as the same team. I felt tonight we just outfought Duke. I thought we were the better team all night. Our pressure on Duke and our determination to put pressure on them all over the field bothered them all night.
"Only six teams ever have gone into the NCAA Tournament with a losing record and out of those six teams two have won the first round and now it's three," said Parker. "So that tells a huge story, too. It's all about confidence. Once the confidence has come into us, which has been in about the last four or five games, we're a different team. It's all about confidence.
"You've got everything to gain and nothing to lose. I told them tonight, 'Don't be afraid, enjoy it and go after them.'"
UNCG set the tone in the opening minutes as it had two solid scoring chances in the first five minutes. Tim Masters' shot from 20 yards out in the fifth minute sailed just high of the crossbar. Cruz Oronos ripped a shot less than a minute later from almost 25 yards out that went a hair over the crossbar and landed on the top of the goal.
The Blue Devils' best chance in the first half came in the 18th minute when Darrius Barnes collected the ball at the top of the 6-yard box. His shot was destined for the right corner of the goal but Spartan goalkeeper Nate Berry was up to the task as he made a diving save to his left to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
UNCG immediately attacked after the save by Berry and registered the first goal of the evening. Manyama delivered a cross from 25 yards out and after the ball took one bounce, Nirav Kadam one-timed it into the right corner of the goal to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
UNC Greensboro almost made it 2-0 heading into the locker room for halftime in the 41st minute. Jokull Elisabetarson blasted a free kick from 23 yards out that rang off the crossbar, keeping the lead at just 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
The Spartans thought they had a 2-0 lead again in the 52nd minute when Kadam found the right corner of the net, but was flagged for offsides. Just three minutes later, though, the Spartans broke through the Blue Devil defense to make the score 2-0.
Masters dribbled down the right flank and delivered a perfect ball to Manyama, who pushed the ball into the right corner of the goal just past Duke goalkeeper Brendan Fitzgerald for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
"As soon as Tim [Masters] crossed it, I thought it was too long for me," said Manyama. "I stuck my foot out and as soon as I touched it I was thinking, 'If I get this in, we have a good chance of being in the second round.' As soon as I touched the ball, the second round was in my head. Let's go to the second round."
With the victory all but wrapped up in the waning minutes, Duke mounted a furious attack as they looked to get on the board. It looked as if the Blue Devils finally had scored when Pavelid Castaneda's beat Berry, but defender James Lofton cleared the ball off the goal line to preserve the shutout and extend UNCG's late-season magic.
The shutout was the fourth of the season for Berry and the fifth for the team this season.
Score by period 1 2 Tot
Duke.. 0.. 0- 0
Scoring: UNCG – Kadam (Manyama) 18:41, UNCG - Manyama (Masters) 55:16. Shots: UNCG 13, Duke 14. Saves: UNCG 6 (Berry 5, Team 1), Duke 1 (Fitzgerald 1). Corner Kicks: UNCG 4, Duke 4. Fouls: UNCG 17, Duke 13
- UNCG -