No. 4 Mercer 3, No. 1 Furman 2 (2OT) (box score)
GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 4 seed Mercer took down No. 1 Furman in the first semifinal game of the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship, taking a 3-2 victory in the second overtime period. The Bears will square off with No. 2 UNCG in the championship match on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.
Dylan Gaither opened the scoring for the Bears in the third minute, scoring from a deflected cross in the box to put Mercer in front. Furman’s Conor Sloan tied it with an excellent chip from the edge of the box before Miles Fenton put the Paladins in front in the 28thminute. Fenton was set up by Cole McLagan, who made a slick turn around a defender and served a perfect cross into the box for Fenton. Six minutes later, Mercer’s Roberto Arteaga brought the Bears level with a strike from outside the box to send the teams into the half tied with two goals each.
The second half saw a pair of excellent performances in goal from Furman’s Max Fisher and Mercer’s JR DeRose, as each made crucial saves to deny goal-scoring opportunities. Each team came close but failed to find the back of the net before the end of regulation.
Both keepers were strong once again as the first overtime period ended scoreless. After chances from each team, Mercer’s Dawson Gideon slipped a pass to Leo Toledo Jr., who struck a shot from outside of the box that sailed past the Fisher and sent Mercer to the final.
The win marked the second victory for Mercer over Furman this year after the Bears took the regular-season matchup in a similar fashion with a 4-3 overtime win in Macon, Georgia, on Oct. 26. Mercer will make its first appearance in the finals since 2017 and will be looking for its third title when it squares off with UNCG.
No. 2 UNCG 3, No. 6 Belmont 2 (OT) (box score)
GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 2 seed UNCG topped No. 6 Belmont in the second semifinal of the day, notching a 3-2 win in overtime to cement its spot in the final. The Spartans will square off with No. 4 Mercer in Greensboro, North Carolina on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in the championship match.
Belmont looked to be heading for its first appearance in the final after opening the scoring in the 27th minute and finding the back of the net once again in the 50th minute to take a two-goal lead. Niccolo Dagnoni provided the assist on both goals, with Jordan Dozzi netting the first and Brett Royster heading home the second.
After falling behind by two goals, UNCG managed to pull one back just three minutes later after Matther Cutler assisted the goal by Micah Albert. The Spartans leveled it in the 63rd minute as Albert Pedra scored from the penalty spot. Belmont goalkeeper Cameron Petty managed to get a hand on the attempt but could not deny Pedra’s equalizer. The Spartans continued to dominate the second half, outshooting the Bruins 12-4 but could not find the winner in regulation.
UNCG continued to find space in the attacking half in the opening period of overtime and in the 97th minute, Pedra came through once again with his second goal of the game, this time from open play as Angel Bacho provided the assist.
The win was the second for UNCG over Belmont this season after winning 2-1 on Oct. 15 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Spartans will make their third consecutive appearance, and twelfth overall, in the final while attempting to win their sixth championship.
2019 SoCon Men’s Soccer Championship
First Round, Tuesday, Nov. 5
Match 1: No. 6 Belmont 4, No. 7 VMI 0
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 8
Match 2: No. 6 Belmont 2, No. 3 ETSU 0
Match 3: No. 4 Mercer 3, No. 5 Wofford 0
Semifinals, Sunday, Nov. 10
Match 4: No. 4 Mercer 3, No. 1 Furman 2 (2OT)
Match 5: No. 2 UNCG 3, No. 6 Belmont 2 (OT)
Finals, Sunday, Nov. 17 (UNCG Soccer Stadium; Greensboro, N.C.)
Match 6: No. 4 Mercer at No. 2 UNCG, 6 p.m.
(all times Eastern)