The UNC-Greensboro Men’s Soccer team battled the University of North Florida last Friday in front of 903 fans in the stands.
With both teams creating multiple opportunities to score early, the atmosphere was energetic between the Spartans and the Osprey from the beginning.
However, most of these shots came from North Florida, who attempted more than double the amount of shots of UNCG. The Osprey fired 20 shots during the match, while UNCG had eight.
In the first half, UNCG played fast and aggressive out of the gate.
“That’s the game plan, especially when we are at home,” Head Coach Justin Maullin said. “We get into the game a little bit quicker when we press high up into the field and get in their face and have high pressure defending.”
The Spartans started the scoring early when freshman midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe found the back of the net just two-and-a-half minutes into the match for his third goal of the season.
The Osprey’s would not trail for long, however, tying the match when Ivan Castro scored on a rebound from a North Florida free kick 15 minutes later.
Just a few short minutes later, Maguraushe was at it again, scoring a second goal in the form of a penalty kick.
Coach Maullin commented on Maguraushe’s play in the first half.
“He was certainly one of the best players in the early going, certainly in the first half,” Maulin said. “If it wasn’t for him, we could’ve been down a lot more in the first half.”
The second half was a different story for UNCG.
The Spartans didn’t quite have the same energy as they did in the first half, and the Osprey took advantage.
Coach Maullin commented on the team’s second half performance.
“I think it was just a tough team to match up against,” Maulin said. “Tactically, we tried several different things. We probably changed into four different formations within one game and nothing really happened for us.”
North Florida had three scoring chances early in the second half but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Sending two over the crossbar and one just wide of the net, the Osprey managed to tie it up just a few minutes later when Castro sent a cross into the box, and Drew Spragg headed it home to tie the match up at two.
That goal sent the match to the first overtime where UNCG came out reenergized.
“[This is] a good team because we always believe we are going to win,” Maulin said. “The team has a great belief in themselves, and they believe every time they step out on the field, they are going to win.”
The first overtime was highlighted by successful goalkeeping on both sides.
Early in the overtime, UNCG had a chance to end the game, but Nasta had other plans. Nasta made a diving save to keep the game alive.
Moments later, North Florida was presented with a similar chance to take the game, firing one on net with five minutes left.
UNCG goalkeeper Logan Rohde slammed the door on that chance; coming up with a huge save to keep the Spartans hopes alive.
The Spartans had one more chance to end it in the first overtime, as the team tried to capitalize on a rebound heading towards the net, but the attempt sailed wide.
The game headed to a second overtime period.
In the second overtime, Alex Morrell of North Florida, who was giving UNCG problems all night, put together a run down the field to set up a scoring chance.
Unfortunately for UNCG, the Osprey were given a penalty kick as a Spartan defender took Morrell down in box.
Helge Pietschmann took the penalty kick for North Florida, burying it in the net to end the game. It was a devastating way to go down for the Spartans.
“Overtime is a cruel thing,” Maulin said. “It’s one goal and you’re done. Even crueler than that is losing it on a penalty.”
The Spartans seemed to struggle all night, and never really seemed to have control of the match.
“We just didn’t click well tonight, [but] I can’t fault the performance,” Maulin said. “The guys wanted to win, and they’re working hard.”
Maulin added, “We could never get a foothold on the game, it just never flowed. We just never got into it, we never played our brand of soccer.”
The Spartans will look to bounce as they travel to High Point University on Sept. 23. After that, UNCG will hit the road to Morgantown, West Virginia where they will take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia University on Sept. 26.