UNCG tops Georgia Southern for SoCon Tournament title, heads back to NCAA Tourney
GREENVILLE, SC – Scott Jones scored his fifth goal of the season 10:10 into the contest and Randi Patterson and Thomas Campbell added insurance goals just 2:40 apart late in the second half as UNC Greensboro earned its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 win over Georgia Southern in the championship game of the 2006 Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The Spartans (14-7-1), who have won the Southern Conference regular season title each of the last three years, won their third-ever SoCon Tournament title, having also won in 1998 and 2005. Last year, UNCG defeated Davidson for the SoCon Tournament title.
With a young defense that has been maligned at times this season, UNCG did not allow a goal in three Southern Conference Tournament matches. The Spartans outscored their opponents, 7-0, and freshman goalkeeper Nate Berry earned all three shutouts.
“Defense wins tournament games,” said UNCG coach Michael Parker. “I think this group, being so experienced, has figured that out. Certainly in this tournament our defensive effort was excellent. Henning Jonasson was outstanding all weekend long.”
Jones, a two-time All-American and four-time All-Southern Conference selection from Dallas, TX, opened the scoring when he scored with a shot to the far post off a feed from Jonasson, who was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. It was Jones’ fifth goal of the season and got UNCG off to a 1-0 lead just over 10 minutes into the match.
The score remained that way until the 72nd minute. Patterson, a two-time All-American from Hackensack, NJ, scored his 12th goal of the season and his fourth of the Southern Conference Tournament, on a chip into the far side of the goal after a crossing pass from the right side by Travis Young. It was also Patterson’s 60th of his career, making him the fifth Spartan to achieve the milestone. It also tied him for fifth on UNCG’s career points list with Chris Goos (1999-2002) at 139.
UNCG, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, got itself one more bit of insurance just 2:40 later. After a long ball by defender D.J. McCurry, Campbell beat a defender and hit a blast from just inside the box for his sixth goal of the season. The assist was McCurry’s fourth in the three postseason. The junior from Gastonia, NC recorded just two assists during the regular season.
“D.J. is certainly a capable player offensively,” said Parker. “We’ve been encouraging him to push the ball from the back more lately and that has been the result.”
Second-seeded Georgia Southern, which was making just its second-ever title game appearance and was in search of its first title, finished the season 10-6-3. The Eagles held a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks, but UNCG held a 13-10 advantage in shots.
The Spartans will be making their 17th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament. It will be UNCG’s eighth trip to the tournament as a Division I member. Previously, UNCG made it to the tournament in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2005. Each of the last two seasons, the Spartans have advanced to the third round, falling in the Round of 16. In 2004, UNCG lost to eventual runner-up UC-Santa Barbara, while in 2005 the Spartans were eliminated by eventual semifinalist SMU.
Despite the team’s past NCAA experience, however, Parker does not see this team as one that will look past its first round opponent. “We’re not looking forward at all. Everything will be one game at a time. This team has had its share of challenges this season (starting out the year 4-4-1 to fall out of the national rankings) and I don’t think they will take anyone lightly at this point.”
NCAA Tournament selections will be announced between 4-5 pm on ESPNNews.
Georgia Southern.... 0 0 - 0
UNC Greensboro...... 1 2 - 3
SCORING SUMMARY: UNCG Jones (Jonasson), 10:10; UNCG Patterson (Young), 71:10; UNCG Campbell (McCurry), 73:50. Shots: Georgia Southern 10, UNC Greensboro 13. Saves: Georgia Southern 5 (Webb 5), UNC Greensboro 3 (Berry 3). Corner Kicks: Georgia Southern 5, UNC Greensboro 2. Fouls: Georgia Southern 16, UNC Greensboro 13.
2006 Men’s Soccer All-Tournament Team
Juan Obregon, Appalachian State
McCoy Livingston, Appalachian State
David Prentice, Furman
Kevin Norman, Furman
Brad Mitchum, Georgia Southern
Calvin Simon, Georgia Southern
Jason Tindall, Georgia Southern
Matt Elliott, UNC Greensboro
Jokull Elsabetarson, UNC Greensboro
Michael FitzGerald, UNC Greensboro
Henning Jonasson, UNC Greensboro
MVP: Henning Jonasson, UNC Greensboro
– UNCG –