By Brandon Boyer, Staff Writer
Published in print Sept. 10, 2014
On a rain-soaked evening in Greensboro, the Spartans lost 0-1 to visiting James Madison University Dukes to extend the team’s losing streak to three games.
Nearly 500 dedicated Spartan fans were in attendance for the lackluster encounter last Friday evening.
James Madison scored the lone goal of the night off an absolute screamer which broke through the UNCG defense.
Forward Joe Vynes played in off a long-ball from Francisco Norton down the left hand side, where he cut inside a Spartan defender and launched a laser of a shot past a sprawling Davis Griffin for the Dukes.
Even though freshman forward Jacques Francois played in his typical fashion, weaving in-and-out between defenders dancing past tackle after tackle for UNCG, the lack of service to him, Moises Gonzalez and Tommi Gardarsson from the midfield meant few opportunities in the final third and even fewer shots to be had all around for UNCG.
After the team started their first two games of the season averaging 19 shots per game, with at least 7.5 shots testing the ability of the opposition’s goalkeeper, this was a game that saw a completely different side of the Blue and Gold.
Against James Madison, UNCG had only seven shots in total, with absolutely zero shots on target.
To be fair, however, James Madison had only nine shots, with the lone shot on target being Vyner’s rocket of a shot past Griffin.
The midfield and the winging defenders just could not provide the service needed once the Spartans pressed far enough into the Dukes’ final third to even up the match against James Madison.
More often than not, whether it was a player with open space, a freekick or even a corner kick, the ball was kicked well over any sort of contest in the penalty box and bounced out for a goal kick for the Dukes.
Whether it was frustration for the Spartans or the field conditions after a day of off and rain showers battering the area, it’s hard to say what exactly went wrong for UNCG.
If how the game ended was any indication, it was more than likely frustration ebbing through at the end of the game, as a late corner kick saw players from both sides come to blows in the box, with the referees having to separate both teams after the game reached its boiling point.
“The pace of the game was poor and we didn’t create as many chances that we have been creating so far this season,” said head coach Justin Maullin in a UNCG Athletics interview after the game.
“Prior to this game, I was real optimistic with the way we were playing, despite not getting a result, but I think tonight we took two steps back.”
Whether the weather was an issue or not, the white-clad hosts were sub-par at best in a match against a rather weak opponent.
These first three matches against Campbell, UNC-Wilmington and James Madison should have been three W’s in the bag and we should be having a talk about how this strong and highly talented team will face off against two incoming heavyweights.
Instead, the Spartans are now limping into their two toughest matchups of the season, against UNC Charlotte and ACC opponents Virginia Tech, with confidence and assurance within the team quite low for so early on in the season.
The best case for the Spartans is to get a result at home in what could be their biggest game of the season against the 49ers, then capitalize on their momentum and get a win away at Longwood. That could set the wheels in motion and put the Spartans back on the right track, burying these first three results deep in the recesses of their memories.
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