Men's Soccer Battles To 1-1 Tie Against No. 4 Charlotte
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men's soccer team went toe-to-toe with reigning NCAA Tournament finalist and current fourth-ranked Charlotte Saturday night as the Spartans recorded a hard-fought 1-1 tie in double overtime at the UNCG Soccer Stadium. Senior forward Hakan Ilhan (Stuttgart, Germany/Univ. of Stuttgart) scored the game-tying goal for the Spartans in the 20th minute of play as UNCG rallied from an early deficit.
Charlotte took the early lead in the 11th minute of action. The 49ers had pressure on the Spartans off a free kick and after the initial clear, Giuseppe Gentile sent a cross back into the box. Nick Barnhorst made a run across the top of the six-yard box and flicked the ball past UNCG goalkeeper Peyton Ford (Jamestown, N.C./Southwest Guilford) for the 1-0 lead.
The Spartans weathered the early push from the 49ers and struck back in the 20th minute of action. Defender Jake Fields (Newtown, Pa./Villanova) stepped up on the play and sent a long cross into the box. Ilhan beat the defender to the ball and drilled a header into the side netting for his team-leading fifth goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
UNCG had a golden chance in the 51st minute as it put sustained pressure on the 49ers' defense. Justin Jones (Jamestown, N.C./Lees-McRae) sent a long throw-in into the box where senior defender Jonathan Leonard (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) drilled a header towards goal, but Charlotte goalkeeper Klay Davis made a diving stab keeping it out of the goal and keeping the game tied.
Charlotte responded back with a prime scoring chance of its own in the 55th minute of play off a corner kick. The 49ers sent the ball to the back post where Biko Bradnock-Brennan got a head on the shot and sent it towards the opposite post. Leonard held his position on the post and cleared the would-be goal off the line to keep the game deadlocked at 1-1.
The teams went back-and-forth down the stretch of the second half with neither team finding the go-ahead goal. The Spartans had the first chance in the overtime periods as Michael Holzer (Tettnang, Germany/Philipp Reis Schule) ripped a shot from 22-yards out off a clearing attempt from a corner kick that sailed just inches wide of the goal post.
Charlotte had its best chance in extra time in the 102nd minute of play. Gentile found some space and got his head on a cross but Ford stepped up big with another save to preserve the tie for UNCG. The Spartans had the game's final dangerous chance in the 105th minute as Holzer sent a long cross to the back post. Freshman Jannick Martens (Henstedt-Ulzberg, Germany/Alstergymnasium) sent the ball back across the mouth of the goal, but it sailed just wide of the post.
UNCG finished the night with a 14-11 advantage in shots, including a 9-3 edge in the second half of play. The Spartans withstood a 10-3 edge in corner kicks by the 49ers as Ford posted four saves for UNCG to preserve the point in the standings.
The Spartans return to action Tuesday night as they travel to Durham, N.C., to face Atlantic Coast Conference foe Duke at 7 p.m.
- UNCG -