Douglas Burns, @DougieJournalis
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Spartans men’s soccer team earned a wonderful 3-0 victory over the Wofford Terriers at the Homecoming game on Saturday. It was a high-octane, chippy and physical game. With two goals from center back Casey Penland and the third from the forward, Cameron Fowler, the score accurately reflects how the Spartans played. The Terriers’ goose egg tells you all you need to know about their performance.
However, that is not always the case. Take, for example, UNCG’s 1-0 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels earlier this season. UNCG fought hard against them, and had some close calls in the penalty box, but in the end the only goal that went through was the Tar Heel.
Not so with Wofford. The Terriers played an ugly game, using physicality and near-fouls to muscle the ball away from the Spartans. Within the first twenty minutes of the match, the Terriers had managed to foul the Spartans 13 times. They had seemingly very little attacking power, and couldn’t make the most of any set piece or break they got.
Contrast this with the Spartans, who played their best of the season. Their game was technical and their approach was methodical. They systematically pulled apart the Terrier defense until they had a clear shot on the goal. The crowd—a mix of UNCG alumni, current students and families—did not have to wait very long to see the first goal of the game. It came from a wonderfully placed corner from Oceano and found Penland’s head, putting it in the back of the net.
About eight minutes into the second half of the game, a corner came into the Wofford penalty box, and a scramble was had, and Penland, again, put the ball in the back of the net. How he did it was quite unclear, but it generated a jubilant and elongated cheer from the crowd, and awoke some poorly repressed issues within the Terriers.
They fouled less in the second half, but their fouls were worse. Two minutes after the scoring drive, Wofford’s #9, Brandon Oddy, received a yellow card after he put in two rough challenges on Spartans. One was a sliding challenge, and the other was a jersey grabbing mess of a challenge, where Oddy used the jersey of the Spartan to slingshot himself into the fray. A yellow card for either of these challenges would have been fair, and the crowd agreed; some unsavoury things were shouted from the stands, and a merciless booing had commenced.
Shortly after this, UNCG’s Mylo Hall stepped on to the field. Hall’s substitution was a phenomenal move, as he possesses a brilliant ability to create chances and pass the ball into space. Hall’s ability to see space and pass into it was where the third goal came from. The ball was to Hall, who put in a wondrous pass to Fowler, who buried the ball in the back of the net. 3-0 Spartans at the 78th minute.
The end of the game, and the rain, came shortly afterwards. It was a clear and triumphant victory for the Spartans, but in the post-game, Head Coach Chris Rich emphasised that tonight was for his boys to celebrate, and tomorrow was for their rest. UNCG takes on Furman on Tuesday.