High Point 2, UNCG 0
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s soccer team allowed two goals in less than a three-minute span of the first half as the Spartans dropped a 2-0 contest to regional rival High Point on Wednesday night at Vert Stadium.
The loss dropped the Spartans to 2-3-1 this season and 18-7-1 all-time against the Panthers.
UNCG had the first dangerous chance of the evening in the 18th minute of play. Redshirt sophomore Justin Jones broke down the left-hand side and sent a cross into the six-yard box. Senior forward Hakan Ilhan ripped a running header toward goal but High Point goalkeeper Kody Palmer was able to push it wide to keep the game scoreless.
In the 22nd minute of action, High Point midfielder Shane Malcolm sent a ball to the top of the 18-yard box. Forward Mamadee Nyepon spun around the UNCG defender and got in alone on goal. Fifth-year senior keeper Peyton Ford got a piece of the shot, but it still found its way into the back of the net for the early 1-0 lead.
High Point extended the lead to 2-0 just 2:44 later as it took advantage of an unlucky UNCG breakout. The Spartans went on the counterattack off a HPU corner kick but the attempted pass deflected back toward the UNCG end, allowing High Point to come in on a breakaway. Shawn Sloan was the recipient of the lucky bounce as he beat Ford on the breakaway for the 2-0 lead.
The Spartans came within inches of cutting the lead in half in the 25th minute of play. Ilhan received a pass at the top of the 18-yard box and beat a High Point defender to go one-on-one against Palmer. He ripped a shot past Palmer, but the shot struck off the post and back into play, keeping the Spartans off the board.
UNCG outshot the Panthers 7-6 in the first half despite the early deficit. Ilhan was one of three Spartans with a pair of shots in the half.
The second half saw both teams go back-and-forth with the Spartans having a strong chance in the 69th minute off a corner kick. Junior Mahdi Ali got his head on the cross but pushed it just over the crossbar to keep it a two-goal deficit.
High Point held an 9-5 advantage in shots in the second half on its way to a 15-12 edge in the game. Ford posted four saves in the loss for UNCG, while Palmer recorded three saves in the HPU victory.
The Spartans return home to the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Saturday night as they host 2011 NCAA Tournament championship game participant and current No. 4 Charlotte in a 7 p.m. contest.