SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship first round
No. 3 Wofford 3, No. 6 VMI 1
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The third-seeded Wofford men’s soccer team scored late in the first half and added two more goals in the second to defeat No. 6 seed VMI, 3-1, in the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship quarterfinals on Saturday night at Snyder Field.
Sophomore defender Kyle Nelson scored twice and Austin Tuggle tallied a goal in between to give the Terriers a 3-0 late in the second half. VMI added a goal late, but it wasn’t enough, as the Terriers advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament, where they will face No. 2 seed Mercer.
Despite controlling possession and dominating the shot count in the first half, the Terriers did not get on the board until the 40th minute, when Nelson put home a corner kick from Nicky Watson from just in front of the net to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead heading into the break. In the first half, Wofford outshot VMI, 14-2, and held a 4-0 lead in corner kicks.
After halftime, Wofford continued to control the game, and Tuggle netted his third goal of the season in the 64th minute off a feed from Charlie Heffron, beating the keeper to the far post from about 10 yards. It was Tuggle’s second consecutive game with a goal and Heffron’s second straight with an assist.
Finally, the Terriers put the game away in the 73rd, with Nelson completing the first two-goal game of his career on a header off a free kick from Kevin Davidsson. Nelson’s six goals on the season place him second on the team, behind only Matthew Aurednik, who has seven.
The Keydets were able to add a goal in the 85th minute, scoring after the Terriers were unable to clear a corner. VMI’s Andrew Pope scored his first goal of the season.
For the game, Wofford outshot VMI, 26-11. The Terriers’ 26 shot attempts were the most they have accrued in a single game this season.
The Terriers’ 12 wins so far this season mark just the second time in the program’s Division I history (1995) that they have won at least 12 games. They also won 12 in 2009.
Up next, Wofford will head to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the SoCon Semifinals, as they will play Mercer this Thursday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m.
No. 4 UNCG 1, No. 5 Furman 0
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG junior defender Eric Gunnarsson scored the game’s lone goal in the 74th minute of action as the fourth-seeded Spartans advanced to the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship semifinals with a 1-0 victory over fifth-seeded and rival Furman on Saturday night at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
The victory marked the third of the year for UNCG over the Paladins and ended Furman’s season in the quarterfinal round. The three wins over the Paladins marks the first time in program history UNCG has defeated its rivals three times in a year and improved the Spartans to 17-15-4 all-time against Furman.
The Spartans raise their record to 11-6-2 on the year with the victory and advance to the SoCon tournament semifinals Thursday afternoon. The remaining SoCon tournament games will be played at the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Thursday and Saturday. The Spartans will face top-seeded and regular season champion ETSU on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., while third-seeded Wofford will face second-seeded Mercer in the second semifinal at 6 p.m.
The Spartans out-shot Furman 13-7 in the victory, including a 7-2 edge in the second half as they controlled play throughout the night. The game-winning goal came in the second half as the Spartans were pressing the action against the Paladins and got a throw-in deep in the Furman territory.
Sophomore Austin Matthews took the long throw-in and sent the ball into the 18-yard box. A Furman defender and sophomore Josh Masten went up for the ball and the defender was able to flick the ball toward the back post. Gunnarsson was alone on the back post and volleyed the ball into the back of the net past Furman goalkeeper Jonathan Smith for his third goal of the year.
Sophomore forward Matt Mattis came within inches of giving the Spartans a two-goal lead in the 80th minute of action, as he got behind the Furman defense. He was able to chip the ball over the on-charging Smith and the ball appeared headed for goal but it rolled just wide to keep the game in suspense down the stretch.
Senior goalkeeper Logan Rohde and the Spartans’ defense smothered Furman for much of the night in posting the shutout. Rohde recorded two saves in the clean slate, while the Spartans’ defense limited the SoCon’s leading scorer, Lewis Hawke, to just two shots on the night.
2016 SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship
Quarterfinal Round, Saturday, Nov. 5
Campus sites (at higher seeds)
Match 1: No. 4 UNCG 1, No. 5 Furman 0
Match 2: No. 3 Wofford 3, No. 6 VMI 1
Semifinals, Thursday, Nov. 10
Match 3: No. 1 ETSU vs. No. 4 UNCG, 3:30 p.m. (SDN)
Match 4: No. 2 Mercer vs. No. 3 Wofford, 6 p.m. (SDN)
Championship, Saturday, Nov. 12
Match 5: Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner, 5 p.m. (ESPN3)