CONWAY – The 10th-ranked Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team denied Winthrop’s upset bid on Wednesday night at the CCU Soccer Field thanks to Uchenna Uzo’s 60th-minute game-winning goal.
The 1-0 win moves Coastal to 12-1-2, including a perfect 7-0-0 mark in Big South play. In addition, the victory also improves Coastal’s regular season conference unbeaten streak to 17 games and marks the Chants’ eighth home victory of the season in front of the Chanticleer faithful. Winthrop falls to 6-7-0 (2-3-0, Big South) with the loss.
After playing scoreless for nearly 60 minutes, Coastal broke through with the game’s only goal as Uzo headed home his third marker of the season. Portillo launched a corner attempt into the box to the head of Uzo who was crashing from the backside. The Lagos, Nigeria, native’s header easily sailed past Winthrop’s outstretched Enrique Miranda before coming to rest in the back of the net. The assist was Portillo’s team-leading sixth of the season.
Following the goal, Coastal would continue to press forward in search of a second score, charting several corner kicks and shot attempts in the process. However, the defensive minded Eagles held strong and kept the game close.
Coastal seemingly secured the team’s ninth consecutive win in the 84th minute when an Eagle was sent off with a straight red card. From that point forward Coastal was content to spread the ball around the field and hold possession.
The first half saw the sides play scoreless for the 45 minute duration. Although, the scoreboard at the CCU Soccer Field showed zeros at the break, both teams had opportunities to find to find the first goal of the game.
Coastal’s first scoring chance came in the fourth minutes as Shawn McLaws sent a low-lying cross into the box toward Ashton Bennett. Unfortunately, Bennett was unable to get a solid boot on the ball, causing the shot to clank off the cross bar. Two minutes later the Chants were afforded a direct kick from 30–yards out. Justin Portillo sent a perfectly placed ball to the head of Ribeiro who flicked it into the back of the net. However, Coastal was whistled offside on the play.
Winthrop earned its fair share of chances on counter attacks, forcing extra work for both the Chanticleer backline and goal keeper Federico Bertele. The Eagles finished the half with three shots and out-cornered Coastal 4-3.
As they have in nearly every game this season the Chanticleers won the shots battle with a 14-5 advantage.
For the second straight game and eighth time this season the Coastal defensive unit posted a clean sheet. Bertele was credited with his 10th win of the season, while compiling 4.2 shutouts and a .806 save percentage.
Coastal returns to the road for its next three games starting at Gardner-Webb on Saturday, Oct. 20. Kick off from the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ Greene-Harbison Soccer Stadium is set for 7 p.m. The Chants downed Runnin’ Bulldogs 3-1 in last season’s meeting at the CCU Soccer Field.
Winthrop returns to action as hosts to Liberty on Saturday at 2 p.m.