Eli Garner's goal lifts UNCG to opening-night win, 2-1
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG sophomore Eli Garner scored 27 seconds into the second half on a shot from 35 yards out and interim men's soccer coach Justin Maullin won his debut as the Spartans topped Charlotte, 2-1, in opening-night men's soccer action at UNCG Soccer Stadium.
Garner took a throw-in from Aaron Reifschneider shortly after the second half kickoff, dribbled between two defenders and hit a blast from 35 yards away into the top of the net.
"A world class goal," said Maullin afterwards. "He was every bit of 30-32 yards out and he is capable of that kind of shot."
"Couldn't be happier for our guys. This is a fantastic win for our program. We beat a team that has been ranked in the Top 25 in the preseason and we started a lot of young players tonight. This is an exciting win for our guys."
Maullin's statement was an understatement in terms of the new faces. The Spartans have 16 new faces on their roster this season. Seven of them were in the starting 11 on opening night. Of the 14 players that played on Wednesday night, nine of them were not on the roster a year ago.
Interim coach Justin Maullin talks to members of the
media after the
Garner, a transfer from North Carolina, nearly made it 3-1 with 5:10 to play if it weren't for a leaping save by Charlotte Klay Davis. Davis finished with two saves on the night.
UNCG got on the board first at 25:45 when Hakan Ilhan scored on a rebound from the right post. Fannar Annarsson's initial shot off a feed from Michael Bonilla hit the post. The rebound bounced to Ilhan, who knocked it home for a 1-0 lead.
Charlotte, which was ranked No. 25 in the College Soccer News preseason poll and received votes in the NSCAA preseason rankings, tied it up 13 minutes later on a goal by Tyler Gibson. Gibson's shot from 18 yards out was deflected in by a UNCG defender that was trying to clear the ball to the far side of the net, but didn't quite get enough control of it.
But Garner's blast less than a minute into the second half stood up to give UNCG its first home opening win since 2006 and first opening day win since 2007. Peyton Ford made four saves for UNCG in the win.
UNCG travels to Creighton for a Saturday night match-up. Game time is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. local).
Charlotte........... 1 0 - 1
UNCG................ 1 1 - 2
SCORING SUMMARY: UNCG - Ilhan (Arnarsson), 25:34; CHA - Gibson (unassisted), 38:31; UNCG - Garner (Reifschneider), 45:27; Shots: Charlotte 17, UNCG 9; Saves: Charlotte 2 (Davis 2), UNCG 4 (Ford 4); Corner Kicks: UNCG 2, Charlotte 6; Fouls: Charlotte 15; UNCG 15.
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