BRISTOL, Va. -- The Montreat College men's soccer team (3-1-1, 2-0-0 AAC) upset last season's Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Runner-up Virginia Intermont, 3-1, on Tuesday evening at Sugar Hollow Park as the Cavaliers won their second straight AAC match for the first time since 2007 while they improved to 4-2-1 against the Cobras all-time.
"We had a good battle with Virginia Intermont tonight," said Head Coach David Knapp. "After a dicey first half of play we made a few tactical changes as we looked to be adaptive to the situation, and the boys did the rest of the work to earn a very nice win tonight."
Virginia Intermont controlled the match early as Montreat struggled to possess against a physical and aggressive Cobra squad that beat the Cavaliers to 50/50 balls all around the pitch.
As VI pressed the Cavaliers they earned seven first half corner kicks but failed to convert till Juan Carlos Molina crashed intoLucas Carvalho following a corner kick. The ball fell to Austin Jack who put the ball away from six yards to put the hosts in the lead, 1-0 at the 28:56 mark.
With the Cavs on their heels and Virginia Intermont feeling confident with the lead at home things looked bleak for Coach Knapp's squad as the Cavaliers continually defended their own end.
Stefan Cazzonelli picked out Benjamin Lloyd who found himself in space outside the penalty area. The Buckinghamshire, England, native cut the ball back beating his mark before slotting the ball towards the back post finding his fellow Englishman, Lewis Jones who smashed the ball past Calvin Anderson to level the score (1-1) with under eight minutes till the break.
For Lloyd the assist continued the 5-foot-10 midfielder's point streak through the last four matches and his first assist in a Cavalier shirt.
"It was a great goal that sent us into halftime level," said Knapp. "We were defending and it was a great play to put us back into the match."
The half closed with the score level at 1-1 with the two teams also level in shots (7) but the hosts held a 7-1 advantage over the Cavaliers in corner kicks.
After making several substitutes in the opening half Coach David Knapp stayed with an experienced lineup that featured seven seniors to open the second half.
"We have a lot of good players," said Knapp. "It's great to have a squad where you can bring guys in to add different dimensions to a match and we needed that tonight."
One of those seniors, Benjamin Lloyd continued his high level of play as the 2009 First Team All-Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference honoree provided his second assist of the match just over seven minutes into the second half when he foundGavin Kneeshaw with a well-placed pass.
The 6-foot-4 Edinburgh, Scotland, native calmly placed the ball past the Cobra's keeper for his second goal in as many matches, continuing his point streak to four straight matches. Kneeshaw then celebrated the eventual game winner as he netted his second collegiate goal on his birthday.
As the Cavaliers continued to adapt to the match it was Lloyd who got on the end of a Cody LaBelle pass to put Montreat into a commanding 3-1 lead in the 73rd minute.
After receiving the ball from the Hendersonville, N.C., native, Lloyd took on the Cobra defense before slotting home his fourth goal of the season.
Lucas Carvalho made five saves to earn his third win of the season while Calvin Anderson made four saves in the loss for VI.
Montreat outshot VI 9-7 while the Cobras held a slight 2-1 edge in corner kicks in the second period of the match that featured 11 fouls and six yellow card cautions.
"The guys showed great resliancy tonight," said Knapp. "We allowed the first goal but battled back to score three straight goals for the win."
Montreat hadn't come back to win a match they allowed the first goal in since defeating Union (Ky.), 2-1 in double overtime, Oct. 13, 2012.
The win for Montreat also beaks a steak of 13 matches that covered 676 days where the Cavaliers had failed to win a match in regulation or overtime on the road. The last time Montreat won such a match came in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals on Nov. 11, 2011 when they defeated Tennessee Wesleyan, 3-1 to advance to the championship match … a match they won to secure their first AAC Championship in the penalty shootout, 4-2, after ending regulation and overtime level, 0-0 over Bryan (Tenn.).
Montreat returns home tomorrow when they host Bob Jones University at 3 p.m. at the friendly confines of Howard Fisher Memorial Field.