Bucs to play North Florida Sunday afternoon for trip to NCAA Tournament
FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2013) - ETSU's conference-best defense held steady for a full 90 minutes Friday night, shutting out Lipscomb, 1-0, and setting a new single season Atlantic Sun record for team shutouts with 10. The win propelled ETSU to its third league final appearance in four years.
Sunday, Nov. 17, the Buccaneers (9-5-4, 5-2-1) will take on fifth-seeded North Florida in the Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer Championship Final with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
ETSU and Lipscomb entered halftime knotted in a scoreless draw; however the Bucs capitalized on a scoring opportunity early in the second half to break the deadlock.
Freshman forward William Nordenstrom (Linkoping, Sweden) scored his second career goal and the eventual game-winner on a rebound in the 54th minute.
Senior David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.) gathered a ball in the box before firing a shot at Lipscomb goalkeeper Micah Bledsoe, who made a diving save. Nordenstrom quickly collected the rebound and placed it in the back of the net to put the Bucs on top, 1-0.
"It was a very difficult game—Lipscomb is an excellent opponent," ETSU head coach Scott Calabrese said. "Ultimately, we were able to survive and advance."
With the win, ETSU extended its unbeaten streak to four matches, the longest such streak of any remaining team in the Atlantic Sun Championship Tournament.
ETSU outshot the Bisons (9-9-2, 4-3-1) by a 9-7 margin despite enduring a first half bereft of much offensive rhythm.
"I think the guys were a little bit tense going into the match," Calabrese said. "It was a very big game for them, and because of that, I don't know that we were able to produce the type of quality in terms of our passing and our possession that we would have wanted to.
The most important thing is that we were able to get the result," Calabrese said. "I think the guys are very pleased with that."
The decision marked the 25th clean sheet of Ryan Coulter's (Dublin, Ireland) career, adding to his Atlantic Sun record for career shutouts. His 10 shutouts on the year are an individual Atlantic Sun single-season record.
Excepting a 5-0 outlying loss to Furman, the Buccaneers have allowed just 10 goals in 17 games this season, ranking among the nation's Top 50 for shutout percentage and goals against average throughout the majority of the year.
"I think when you look at how to advance in a tournament, it's very important to have teams that are gritty, that will work hard, and will ultimately not concede," Calabrese said. "When you're not conceding goals and conceding chances, even if you're not necessarily playing with incredible stuff or creating a lot of chances, you always have a chance."
The Buccaneers move one step closer to their goal of winning the league tournament and stand just one win away from clinching the program's second ever NCAA Tournament berth.
"Coming into the tournament, we are the underdogs—we are the second seed and playing away from home," Calabrese said. "I feel like we have everything to play for and nothing to lose."
ETSU will take on the North Florida Ospreys (8-6-3, 3-4-2) Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
The match will be the first ever Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer Championship Final to be broadcast on ESPN3.