JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 25, 2017) – After completing non-conference play with a winning record, ETSU men’s soccer is gearing up for 10 Southern Conference games, beginning with cross-state rival UNCG Sept. 26 at Summers Taylor Stadium in Johnson City.
Last Time Out
With ETSU locked in a 1-1 tie against George Mason last Wednesday, the Bucs allowed two goals in the final three minutes – including one with only one second remaining – to fall 3-1 against George Mason. This ended ETSU’s two-game road swing in a win-loss split.
The lone ETSU goal against the Patriots came courtesy off sophomore forward Javier Alberto (Johnson City, Tenn.) just five minutes after halftime. The goal was Alberto’s first of the season and the fourth of his career, with his first coming against George Mason last year.
The two road games marked the first two contests this season that ETSU has ended games at the 90:00 mark, with its previous contests going beyond regulation into overtime.
After starting the 2017 season 0-4-1, the Spartans march into Johnson City on a three-game winning streak. In the last three games, UNCG has kept its opponents off the scoreboard, turning in narrow margin shutout victories.
UNCG’s last win came against Appalachian State – the only common opponent with ETSU so far – in a 1-0 decision in Greensboro last Saturday. ETSU also defeated Appalachian State 1-0.
The Spartans’ men’s soccer program has been in existence since 1971 and competed on the Division III and Division II levels until jumping to Division I in 1991. UNCG is 327-185-41 all-time on the D1 level and has turned in 11-win seasons the last two years. ETSU has eliminated UNCG from the conference tournament in each of the last two seasons.
The team is led by head coach Justin Maullin, who is in his eighth season with UNCG. Maullin’s offense led the conference last season with 116 points and 39 goals. He’s also the first rookie coach to lead his team to a SoCon conference title, which came in 2010 after removing the “interim” title and becoming the team’s official head coach. The championship was later vacated due to previous NCAA infractions that dated back to 2007.
Scouting the Spartans
In the last three contests for UNCG, defense has been the name of the game. The Spartans rank 36th in the NCAA in save percentage at 0.806 and are outscoring opponents 4-1 in the last four games.
The key component between the pipes for UNCG is junior goalkeeper Jon Milligan, who is in his third season overall and first season as the full-time starter. He has 11 saves in the last three games and carries a save percentage of 0.806 with a 0.85 goals allowed average.
Junior forward Matt Mattis leads the offense with two goals, including a game winner against Campbell in a 1-0 decision. Mattis has a .462 shot on goal percentage and has appeared in all eight games with six starts under his belt.
A newcomer to watch for UNCG will be freshman midfielder Nelson Oceano, who scored the game-winning goal against Appalachian State for his first collegiate score. He is also one of five UNCG players with one assist on the season.
ETSU and UNCG History
These two programs have formed a bit of a rivalry since becoming conference foes in 2014. The Bucs hold a narrow edge in the series with a 5-4-3 record.
The Bucs have walked away victorious in the last four contest, including three wins last season and a 6-5 penalty kick victory in the 2015 SoCon tournament.
The two schools met in ETSU’s inaugural season to open the rivalry, with UNCG winning 3-1 on the road. Two later meetings in 2011 and 2012 would mark the only other non-conference matchups with ETSU as a member of the ASUN conference.
The last contest between the two came in the 2016 SoCon tournament semifinal round, with ETSU notching a decisive 5-2 victory to advance to the finals.
Prior to the last matchup, seven straight contests between the sides ended in either a tie or by a one-goal margin.
ETSU Record Watch
Senior forward Fletcher Ekern (Knoxville, Tenn.) has 22 career goals and is four goals away from tying the program career goal record held by David Geno (26). His last score against Radford broke a tie for second place with former teammate Joao Ramalho at 21.
Ekern also ranks fifth all-time for career game-winning goals and needs seven to tie Geno, the current record holder with 11.
After a breakout 2016 season that saw a NCAA-high and ETSU single-season record 12 assists, senior Cameron Woodfin (Old Hickory, Tenn.) is second on the all-time career list at ETSU with 17 total assists. Woodfin needs four more assists to break the program record held by Geno (20).
Junior goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland (Chester, U.K.) is in line to become one of the greatest keepers in ETSU history, as he came into the season with the career record for highest save percentage at .766. With 22 saves this season, Sutherland ranks second on the career saves list at 162, trailing Ryan Coulter who has 182.
Sutherland also needs nine shutouts and eight wins to tie the program career records held by Coulter in each category.
Live stats and live video will be available for tomorrow’s contest. Play-by-play broadcaster Mike Gallagher will be on the call for the ESPN 3 production.
Live Video Link: http://tinyurl.com/yae9naol
Live Stats Link: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=186461
Game Notes: http://tinyurl.com/y7j279w3
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