GREENSBORO, N.C. – Matt Strine scored 11:54 into the match and Peyton Ford made a diving save with 15 minutes left to preserve the shutout as UNCG handed Navy its first loss of the season, 1-0, in men's soccer action Saturday night at UNCG Soccer Stadium.
The Spartans (4-2-0) won their third straight overall and sixth straight at home dating back to last year. Navy, off to its best start since 2001, entered the night as one of 15 unbeaten, untied teams left in Division I. The Spartans probably knocked the Mids out of the Top 25 with the win – just as UNCG has done twice before this season. Charlotte and William & Mary were also on the cusp of making it into the NSCAA Top 25 when UNCG knocked those two teams off.
"I think we've started to mature," said UNCG interim head coach Justin Maullin. "I think we are starting to make less mistakes. We are starting to manage the game better. It is a young crop of players that is starting to mature and learn from every game.
"I am extremely happy with our back four and the midfield has been excellent for us. Matt Strine and Fannar Arnarsson have been excellent. They are doing exactly what we have asked them to do."
UNCG's Justin Maullin talks with the media following Saturday night's win over Navy.
Strine's tally, his first this season, came from eight yards out near the left post. Aaron Reifschneider's long throw-in from the right sideline skidded through the box and made it through a crowd to Hakan Ilhan. Ilhan's nifty heel pass found Strine at the near post, who popped up home for a 1-0 Spartan lead.
With 15 minutes left, an odd angle shot by Navy's Sam Miller almost tied the game. Miller, from near the same post as Strine's, flipped a ball towards the goal. The ball went off goalkeeper Peyton Ford and started spinning along the goalline. Just as a Navy player was sliding towards it, Ford dove and secured the loose ball to maintain the lead.
The Spartans had a chance to make it 2-0 three minutes later when Ilhan broke loose and streaked from midfield toward a one-on-one with Navy goalkeeper Aaron Dupere. However, defender Alex Foskett hustled back and got a piece of Ilhan's shot to thwart the chance.
Ford recorded four saves for his second shutout this season and the fifth of his career. Dupere made five saves for Navy.
UNCG returns to action on Wednesday night when it hosts Campbell at 7 p.m. to continue its four-match homestand.
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Navy................ 0 0 - 0
UNCG................ 1 0 - 1
SCORING SUMMARY: UNCG Strine (Ilhan; Reifschneider), 11:54; Shots: Navy 6, UNCG 10; Saves: Navy 5 (Dupere 5), UNCG 4 (Ford 4). Corner Kicks: Navy 2, UNCG 6. Fouls: UNCG 7, Navy 11.