Ilhan's magic touch does it again, UNCG moves on to finals
MT PLEASANT, S.C. – UNCG sophomore Hakan Ilhan's 11th goal of the season came 4:35 into the first overtime period, lifting the top-seeded Spartans over fourth-seeded Appalachian State, 1-0, in semifinal round action at the Southern Conference Men's Soccer Championship.
Ilhan, the Southern Conference's leading scorer, now has 29 points on the season, including 17 in the last seven matches on seven goals and three assists. He scored both goals in UNCG's quarterfinal round win over Georgia Southern – including in overtime goal to win that match, as well.
With the win, UNCG (11-5-4) will face Furman in the title match Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Furman defeated Davidson, 1-0, on Friday night.
It will be UNCG's ninth trip to the finals in 14 years in the league. UNCG is 4-4 all-time in Southern Conference Championship title games. It is only fitting, though, that two teams should meet with so much at stake on Sunday. Since UNCG joined the league in 1997, Furman and UNCG have combined to win 11 regular season (including shared title together in 1998 and this season) and nine conference tournament titles. They are the two winningest schools in conference history, with UNCG winning nearly 76 percent of its league matches and Furman winning 72 percent all-time.
The win extended UNCG's unbeaten streak to 10 consecutive games, going 7-0-3 during that span.
Ilhan scored on a header just inside the near post for the gamewinner. The ball came in with a corner kick by Aaron Reifschneider.
"We had to be patient and had to wait for our chances," said Ilhan, who has at least one point in seven straight matches and nine of the last 10. "And we used a good set piece to win the game."
UNCG controlled possession for much of the match, firing 21 shots to ASU's five, including a 4-0 edge in overtime. The Mountaineers' efforts were well-placed, however, with three shots on goal.
Appalachian State's best chance on the evening was a Bruno Mbamala header in the 25th minute, which UNCG's Peyton Ford saved with a diving effort.
"It was a fantastic effort," said UNCG interim head coach Justin Maullin. "It was a difficult game because Appalachian State made it difficult.
"They put 11 players behind the ball, and it was tough for us to get it down the middle. We made a halftime adjustment to get the ball wide, and on the second set piece there in overtime, we got the game-winner."
Collin Taylor stopped four shots on evening for the Mountaineers (8-8-3) while Ford recorded three saves in earning his fifth shutout of the season for the Spartans.
Appalachian State... 0 0 0 - 0
UNCG................ 0 0 1 - 1
SCORING SUMMARY: Ilhan (Reifschneider), 94:35. Shots: Appalachian State 5, UNCG 21. Saves: Appalachian State 4 (Taylor 4), UNCG 3 (Ford 3). Corner Kicks: Appalachian State 2, UNCG 8. Fouls: Appalachian State 12, UNCG 14.
- UNCG -