By Brandon Boyer, Staff Writer
Published in print Oct. 22, 2014
Men’s Soccer had an up-and-down performance this week, as they faced off against two of the Southern Conference’s newest members in Virginia Military Institute and Mercer.
In a game that was originally scheduled to be hosted by VMI, but had to be moved due to inclement weather and poor field conditions, the Spartans made the most of the location change by holding the visitors to five shots on the night, compared to the commanding 18 shots that the Spartans had on VMI goalkeeper, Alex Guerra.
Jacques Francois hosted his coming out party against VMI, with five shots on target and a pairs of assists, leading the Spartans from the front in a 3-0 win over their new SoCon rivals
With a first half that saw two goals find the back of the net, but not a lot of offensive opportunity, the second half was an entirely different story.
The Blue and Gold offense exploded for 14 of their 18 shots in the second half and had two goals disallowed early in the going after halftime.
With an onslaught of chances failing to find the back of the net from the 70th minute onward, it took until late in the game for two of the Spartans’ most promising players to combine and put the game to bed.
Francois, continuing to cause havoc at the back for VMI, flew down the left-hand side and shot a screamer at the waiting VMI keeper.
The power behind the shot was a bit too much for Guerra, as he was forced to parry the ball back into play, which saw Freshman, Neico Regent, pounce on the deflection and rocket home a shot from near the edge of the area, the first goal of his collegiate career.
Freshman goalkeeper William Pyle continued his good track record i with his second straight shutout and third on the season.
The loss continued VMI’s losing streak and firmly planted them at the bottom of the Southern Conference standings.
The Keydets have lost eight games on the bounce, a losing streak that trails back to their 7-0 defeat at the hands of Wake Forest back on Spetmeber 23.
The Keydets are without a win in even longer period, with their only win of the season coming against UNC Asheville back on September 5.
On Saturday evening, the Spartans hosted SoCon elite Mercer, in which saw the Spartans push the top ranked team in the conference to the brink.
The Bears came into the game leading the conference with only one loss, falling to second place Wofford by a score of 2-1 mere days before their matchup with Greensboro.
Their excellent form on the season, however, carried over into their first match up with the Blue and Gold, as they tucked away their first chance on goal in the 29th minute.
From there, it was a tightly contested affair, as both team struggled to make their chances count, but managed to keep things close.
After halftime, as it tends to with UNCG the game opened up severely, with the Blue and Gold tying up the game in the 58th minute, with a perfectly stuck freekick from Christopher Reingen. It was then left up to the fantastically quick reflexes of William Pyle to keep the Spartans in it, with five saves in the second half.
Since the NCAA insists on playing with the golden goal rule still in effect, a rule given up by literally every other corner of the sport on the planet, the game went into two overtime periods, which ended up in heartbreak for the Spartans.
With a quickly taken opportunity, the visiting Bears struck immediately from a throw-in in the 104th minute, where Thomas Glenn slid a shot underneath a Spartan defender and Pyle to take the 2-1 victory on the road.
Men’s soccer head coach, Justin Maullin, felt for his men, as a better result was deserved, but never came.
“They battled all night and deserved a better outcome,” said Coach Maullin to UNCGSpartans.com.
“We put ourselves in positions tonight to score that second goal by generating 19 shots, but were unable to find the go ahead goal. Our guys worked hard tonight and deserved to come out of here with a different result.”