UNCG entered Saturday night’s match trying to rebound from a 1-2 loss against Mercer. However, the rained soaked night ended with the blue and gold losing their second SoCon match, with ETSU returning home after a crazy 3-4 Spartans loss in double overtime. It was an exciting game to say the least. Seven goals were scored, two of them penalty kicks, three of the goals being from 18, 20, and 25 yards out, and one standard goal. In addition to the goals, scored seven yellow cards and one red card were distributed that night.
With Hurricane Matthew reaching out across Greensboro, the elements played a big role in the game. The rain poured hard enough that the game was delayed for an hour. With these intense weather conditions, Head Coach Justin Maullin spoke after the match about how the game was impacted.
“Yes, we wanted to play direct and when we saw the rain coming we thought it would help us more in terms of playing direct, and then obviously with the wind so strong in either direction you had to over-hit the ball in the first half and under-hit it in the second half so yes it played a factor in what we did.”
The first half of the game started off quickly with two yellow cards and one goal scored by UNCG in the first 10 minutes of the game. The two yellow cards were given to ETSU’s Jeffrey George in the first minute of the game, and the second was also given to ETSU, this one to Ben Holt in the eighth minute. The goal scored in the seventh minute was by redshirt junior midfielder, Rouven Wahlfeldt, for his second goal of the season. ETSU would eventually tie the game in the 30th minute off of a penalty kick, with Fletcher Ekern equalizing the match. That would be the end of the scoring action of the first half, but there were still three yellow cards given out during the remainder of the half with all three of them going to UNCG. One yellow was given out in the 31st minute to Ricky Chavez. The next two were given in the 44th minute one being to Hugo Coicaud and the next one given to UNCG’s bench.
During the second half of the game I asked head coach Maullin what he had said to the team to keep them fighting through the tough game and weather.
“Well again we knew in the second half we were gonna go with the wind, so we knew we’d fought hard in the first 45 playing against it, so we felt good going into the second half with the wind.”
The first 30 minutes of the second half were rather quiet with no goals scored, but then in the final part of regulation, there were four goals scored in the last 13 minutes of the game. The first goal coming from Leeroy Maguraushe in the 76th minute of the game, along with this being his first goal of the season. Then ETSU would come back and tie the game a 2-2 with an 81st minute goal by Javier Alberto. Then only five minutes later, the Spartans would commit a penalty in the box and Fletcher Ekern would score his second goal of the game in the 86th minute. To top that off, the penalty that would allow the PK would be a red card to Spartans wing defender Casey Penland, which would disqualify him from a big upcoming game at Wofford. At the moment this seemed like the knockout blow to the blue and gold, but just 22 seconds later ETSU would end up allowing an own goal that would tie the game at 3-3 and push it to overtime.
During the two overtime periods it was rather quiet until the beginning of the second OT with Fletcher Ekern scoring the game winning goal in the 101st minute and giving him the hat trick and the conference victory for East Tennessee State.
Despite the poor field conditions, the three goals on the board for the Spartans were more than their last two matches combined. Next Saturday night, Mercer will pay the Spartans a visit, hoping to sweep the season series with UNCG and defeat them for the second time in two weeks.