The Men’s Soccer team entered last weekend’s Homecoming match on a three game winning streak, defeating Conference rivals Wofford, Mercer, and Furman to place them within a match for the top seed in the Southern Conference. Last Saturday, October 22, the Spartans hoped to sweep the season series against the Wofford Terriers. Despite playing a hard fought game and producing many opportunities to score, the Spartans were unable to score and left home with a 1-0 defeat.
Despite losing, the men “absolutely wanted the win.” Head coach Justin Maullin expressed how the team wanted to make the student body proud,” considering that it was the homecoming game. The team really enjoyed being able to play in front of the homecoming crowd. “It certainly benefitted them,” said Maullin. But he thinks that the team is “professional enough to play equally hard in front of 10 people or 10,000 people.” However, coach Maullin commented on how “the 3-win streak kept us in the running to win back-to-back league championships.”
During the first half of the game, blue and gold offense put on display their playing making abilities and keeping the Wofford on their heels and putting pressure on the Terriers defense during attacks. They did a good job in executing and creating opportunities to score, even if each opportunity did not lead to putting a one under UNCG on the scoreboard. They also kept the momentum for most of the first half as well. In order to keep the momentum then had, coach Maullin commented on how they “stayed on the front foot.”
If you look at the standings in the SoCon this season, one can see that the Spartans, at least on paper, are better than the Terriers. However, the Spartans just couldn’t get the ball to drop for them in this game. But, just because they didn. Coach Maullin acknowledged that the team “stayed positive and played good attacking soccer.”
Heading into halftime, coach Maullin discussed what he think the team needed to work on as they went into the second half. The adjustments that he commented on were minor, as he thought that the team “Really just needed to keep everything the same.” He also talked about how “it was a game of transition, so we spoke about trying to get one extra body in the box as we go forward.” Additionally, he said the team “wanted to watch the counterattack.”
That being said, the second half did see the Terriers score, what would be, the game winning goal off a corner kick from Kevin Davidsson to Dredon Kelly for the header and the game in the 72nd minute.
As for not getting any goals tonight, some of that can be blamed on poorer-than-usual passing by our Spartans. The Spartans had so many opportunities negated by poor passing. But coach Justin Maullin argued that the important thing was that the team “was creating chances.” Now if they weren’t creating chances, that would be different. “The coaches would start to worry if we weren’t creating any opportunities, but we’ve created so many opportunities tonight,” said Maullin. “Unfortunately, the bounce didn’t go our way.”
As for what Maullin thinks the team needs to do for next game considering the unlucky loss, he said “I don’t think there’s that much to work on. It’s a tough group and we were the better team. We played positive football.” The team will get back to its regular form as it finishes out the season. As for trying to win back-to-back league championships, Maullin expressed how “we just need a little bit of help now from other teams in order for us to win the league.”
The men’s soccer team will close out the regular season and celebrate their departing seniors Saturday night at 7 against 0-14 VMI. The week after will see the Spartans hosting the SoCon championships for men’s soccer, with the quarter-finals being played on November 5.