Ilhan's OT tally lifts UNCG into SoCon semifinals
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sophomore Hakan Ilhan scored twice, including the game-winner 3:07 into overtime as top-seeded UNCG survived a scare from eighth-seeded Georgia Southern, 2-1, in Southern Conference Men's Soccer Championship quarterfinal round action Saturday night.
Ilhan's 10th goal of the year grazed the bottom of the crossbar for the game-winner. The Spartans, who are now unbeaten in their last nine matches (6-0-3), controlled play for much of the night. The Spartans held a 21-5 advantage in shots and had two shots hit the post midway through the first half in a two-minute span.
"We harped all week long that this game was not going to be easy," said UNCG interim coach Justin Maullin. "We told them 'don't go out and expect this to be another 6-1 game.' We scored 12 goals the last two times we played Georgia Southern and we preached all week long that it would not be that again tonight. Credit to Georgia Southern – (coach) Kevin Kennedy and his staff had a great game plan and did a great job. They were very difficult to breakdown.
"We were unfortunate in the first half with hitting the post twice. If those go in, it is a different game. But I told our guys when overtime started 'go win it now' and fortunately we did. I am extremely proud of them. It is tournament time and anything can happen."
It is the 30th time in the last 31 seasons that the Spartans have won 10 or more matches in a season.
After a scoreless first half, UNCG had a golden opportunity with 20 minutes left. Adam Shore's point-blank shot was saved by Neal Bates. Brian Graham was there for the rebound, but his shot hit off of Bates' foot and the match remained scoreless.
The Spartans finally broke through at 77:13. Kris Byrd was taken down on the left side of the box and UNCG was awarded a penalty kick. Ilhan blasted it into the left side of the goal to give UNCG a 1-0 lead.
Georgia Southern (3-11-3) tied it, however, with 6:20 left in regulation. A long throw-in from Drew Ruggles went into the box, but was deflected towards the 18-yard line. However, Ethan LaPan was able to gather it in on the left side of the box and hit a one-timer into the net for his fourth tally of the season.
In overtime, the Spartans continued to apply pressure. On a throw-in, Aaron Reifschneider played the ball to the feet on Will Mack. Mack's uncontested cross from the right side found Ilhan in the middle of the box, just above the six-yard box. He blasted into the top of the goal, just grazing the underside of the crossbar for his SoCon leading 10th tally of the year.
Ilhan leads the SoCon with 27 points on the season. The native of Stuttgart, Germany now has a point in six straight matches and eight of the last nine. In his last six matches, he has tallied 15 points on six goals and three assists.
The win gave UNCG a date with Appalachian State next Friday evening in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The fourth-seeded Mountaineers topped fifth-seeded Elon, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon in Boone.
UNCG's win also made it 14 consecutive years that the No. 1 seed has defeated the No. 8 seed in quarterfinal round action, although Saturday's contest was the first time that match-up has needed extra time.
Georgia Southern.... 0 1 0 - 1
UNCG................ 0 1 1 - 2
SCORING SUMMARY: UNCG Ilhan (penalty kick) 77:13; GSU LaPan (Ruggles) 83:40; UNCG Ilhan (Mack, Reifschneider) 93:07. Shots: Georgia Southern 5, UNCG 21. Saves: Georgia Southern 4 (Bates 4), UNCG 2 (Ford 2). Corner kicks: UNCG 4, Georgia Southern 2. Fouls: UNCG 3, Georgia Southern 9.
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