Two late goals gives ETSU berth into A-Sun Tournament
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 29, 2011) – The ETSU men’s soccer team was 16 minutes away from missing out on the chance to defend its Atlantic Sun Tournament title on Saturday afternoon at Summers-Taylor Stadium, but goals by junior Alesi Osorio (Austin, Texas) and senior Aaron Schoenfeld (Knoxville, Tenn.) pushed the Bucs ahead of USC Upstate and through to the conference tournament.
Osorio’s goal tied the game in the 75th minute, and Schoenfeld quickly put ETSU ahead 2:27 later with his seventh goal of the year. The senior now shares the team lead with sophomore David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.) and tied his own record for goals in a season.
With the win, ETSU (9-5-3, 3-4-1 A-Sun) notched its 10th point in the A-Sun standings and jumped USC Upstate (5-8-2, 2-4-2 A-Sun) to eliminate the Spartans from tournament contention. The Bucs will enter the A-Sun Tournament as either the No. 6 or No. 5 seed, depending on the outcome of the match between Mercer and Belmont on Sunday. If the Bears and Bruins tie, ETSU earns the five seed. Any other result bumps the Bucs down to the six.
Regardless of its seed, ETSU will play in front of its home crowd after receiving the right to host the conference tournament in the preseason. The Bucs have enjoyed much success inside Summers-Taylor this year, holding a 5-1-3 record in their home stadium.
Hosting A-Sun Tournament games is something Calabrese and the defending conference tournament champions have become accustomed to. Last year, the Bucs earned the conference tournament’s No. 1 seed, earning the right to host the semifinals and final on their way to their first A-Sun Tournament title.
The Spartans did not make it easy for ETSU to earn the right to defend its title, even though the Bucs dominated possession for the majority of the game as shown by their 30-10 shot advantage.
Through the majority of the first half ETSU was in complete control. The Bucs constantly threatened with 12 shots and five corners before Upstate took their first attempt at goal. In that span, ETSU beat Upstate’s keeper, Jason McCabe, twice but McCabe was bailed out by his teammates before the ball reached the net.
The first of those chances came in the 24th minute when Geno caught up to a long pass sent up the field with just a single Spartan defender alongside of him. McCabe, spotting the danger, came out from goal, but Geno juggled a ball over his defender and lobbed a shot over McCabe that was headed for goal. Sprinting downfield, Upstate’s John Kadane caught up to Geno’s shot before it rolled in to keep ETSU off the score board.
Seven minutes later, the Bucs nearly scored again when sophomore Itode Fubara (Ogbema, Nigeria) lined up for one of ETSU’s five corner kicks of the first half. With the ball deflected around and loose in the box, Osorio blasted a shot past the diving McCabe only to watch a Spartan defender standing at the goal line save the shot from going in. Schoenfeld then scrambled for the ball still rolling around the box and fired a shot, but this time McCabe was there to hold on for the save.
Seemingly in control of the match with a 12-0 shot advantage, ETSU suddenly was caught out of position and the Spartans capitalized. With a run up the far right side of the field, Michael Rankin-Byrne ran the ball into the box and slipped a shot on the ground past Ryan Coulter (Dublin, Ireland) to give Upstate an abrupt, 1-0, lead.
The halftime line was a head scratcher, as ETSU led the Spartans 17-4 in shots and 5-2 in corners, but found itself a goal behind on Upstate’s only shot on goal of the half.
The storyline didn’t change with the half as ETSU continued to apply pressure on the attack with nothing finding the back of the net. The Bucs took eight shots and four corner attempts compared to just one shot for Upstate through the first 25 minutes of the second half, but still trailed by a goal.
With under 16 minutes to play and time running out on ETSU ‘s A-Sun Tournament hopes, sophomore Nate Hodges (Meridian, Miss.) came forward and created an opportunity for the Bucs first goal. Hodges took the ball all the way down to the end line on the outside of the 18-yard box and slipped past a defender to get free.
Spotting David Haba (Germantown, Tenn.) in front, Hodges passed the ball to his teammate along the end line and Haba sent a chance through the box which hit off of Schoenfeld and fell to Osorio. Right in front of goal, Osorio banged home the equalizer to the delight of 1,045 fans in attendance.
With momentum of their side and a new life sparked into the crowd, ETSU quickly went back on the attack. Sophomore Blaike Woodruff (Georgetown, Texas) brought the ball down the far right side of the field and took a shot from the top right corner of the box which McCabe dove forward to save, but the ball fell free from the keeper’s grip and Schoenfeld was there to slide in and punch home the eventual game-winner.
The Spartans caught a few opportunities to level the match late, but Coulter met every challenge en route to four saves through the second half.
ETSU has one more game on the schedule before the start of the A-Sun Tournament, as the Bucs will host Appalachian State on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. The match is also ETSU’s senior night, honoring Schoenfeld, Jaron Westbrook (Round Rock, Texas) and Blake Pelton (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
For more information on ETSU men’s soccer, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s soccer links.