Men’s soccer ties USC Upstate, 1-1, takes No. 3 seed in A-Sun Tournament
Men’s soccer ties USC Upstate, 1-1, takes No. 3 seed in A-Sun Tournament
Saturday, November 3, 2012

ETSU to take on No. 6 Jacksonville Wednesday in Ft. Myers, Fla.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Nov. 3, 2012) – The ETSU men’s soccer team concluded the regular season with a draw, 1-1, against USC Upstate on Saturday night at County University Soccer Stadium, earning the No. 3 seed in next week’s 2012 Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship.

ETSU (9-6-3, 5-2-1 A-Sun) infiltrated the Spartans’ defense for 24 shots, half coming on goal, but ironically scored when USC Upstate (5-9-2, 3-4-1 A-Sun) headed a cross back into its own goal. Upstate responded with an equalizer in the 84th minute, and the two sides played two scoreless overtime periods to conclude each of their respective regular seasons with a draw.

“Overall, I thought we played well,” said ETSU head coach Scott Calabrese, who will be taking the Buccaneers to their fourth consecutive A-Sun Tournament. “We created a few good chances, but just were not that sharp around the goal. Sometimes it was our final ball not being exactly what we needed, and other times it was the finish. I also thought Upstate’s goalkeeper played very well.”

With 16 points in league play, the Buccaneers earn the No. 3 seed in the A-Sun Tournament and will play No. 6 Jacksonville (3-12-1, 3-5-0 A-Sun) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. That match will be held at the FGCU Soccer Complex in Ft. Myers, Fla., as a result of FGCU defeating Mercer, 1-0, on Saturday night and capturing the regular season championship.

“Now, essentially our record is 0-0 and we go down to the conference tournament with the intent of performing better,” the fifth-year head coach commented. ”The mentality now is to survive and advance.”

No. 4 USC Upstate takes on No. 5 Lipscomb in the other quarterfinal, while Mercer earns the No. 2 seed and plays the winner of ETSU and JU. This will mark the second straight year the Bucs have come across the Dolphins in the first round. Last season, sixth-seeded ETSU cruised to a victory, 2-0, over third-seeded JU, with both goals coming off the foot of David Haba (Germantown, Tenn.).

“We’ve been in this position before,” added Calabrese. “Jacksonville is a good team with dangerous players that can hurt you. We’ll prepare for them and look to get the result in order to move on.”

The Buccaneers had a lot to play for in Saturday night’s regular season finale. A win over the Spartans could have meant a first-round bye in the A-Sun Tournament, but FGCU defeating Mercer eliminated any hopes of an automatic berth into the semifinals. Still, ETSU entered the night one victory away from its third straight 10-win season, and came out firing.

Just three minutes into the match, A-Sun Player of the Year candidate David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.) took his first of a game-high five shots. The opportunity went wide, but Upstate keeper Dani Alvarado was not done facing the conference’s leading goal scorer, as Geno finished the night with three attempts having to be saved.

In the latter stages of the first period, redshirt junior Luis Calzadilla (Caracas, Venezuela) nearly found the back of the net on a strike off a free kick. Calzadilla’s shot was headed toward the left post, but Alvarado dove to his right and made one of his 11 saves to keep the Bucs scoreless.

ETSU keeper Ryan Coulter (Dublin, Ireland) was up next, being called upon to stop a shot from Dave Musambi just a couple minutes after Calzadilla’s near goal. Musambi brought the ball down the right side of the area, and tried to float a shot to the far post which Coulter dove for and corralled in midair. The Irish keeper finished with three saves total.

In the closing moments of the half, senior Theo Yang (Lilburn, Ga.) sent a corner kick to the far post, finding the head of an unmarked Simon Schroettle (Rain, Germany). The German-born sophomore sent the ball back to the opposite post, where freshman defender Kristoffer Ibsen (Aalborg, Denmark) attempted a header at the upper-right corner that missed wide.

The two teams took the scoreless game into halftime, with ETSU outdueling the Spartans in the shot department by a margin of 8-3.

The opening minutes of the second half presented ETSU with its best scoring opportunity of the night. Geno was played into the box and found himself one-on-one with Alvarado. The Dobyns-Bennett product went to dribble around the oncoming keeper, but was taken out to earn a penalty kick. Geno stepped up to try and add to his league-leading total, but was denied his 12th by Alvarado. The ETSU junior still leads the conference with 11 scores and 29 points total.

Yang was next to test Alvarado, before junior Itode Fubara (Ogbema, Nigeria) sent his last of three shots well high of goal. The middle portions of the half also saw Coulter make a save, and redshirt freshman Emmanuel Wilson (Memphis, Tenn.) come on to replace Geno for 15 minutes.

Just one second before the game hit the 76-minute mark, USC Upstate handed ETSU a goal on a miscommunication between a defender and Alvarado. ETSU had sent a cross through the air which was coming down near the top of the box. An Upstate defender was waiting for the ball in space, and decided to head it back near goal to where he thought Alvarado was waiting. To his surprise, Alvarado had come up from the goalline to play the ball which resulted in the headed pass sailing over the keeper’s head and rolling through to put the Bucs ahead.

The lead lasted about seven minutes, disappearing when Matt Flynn scored his first goal of the season on a free kick from the top of the box following a Buccaneer foul.

The equalizer eventually pushed the game to the start of two overtime periods. The second was dominated by the Bucs, nearly finding the golden goal on multiple occasions. Freshman Henrique Novaes (Vinhedo, Brazil) took a hard blast that just missed high, and Alvarado made two more incredible diving stops in the final minutes to earn the draw.

ETSU and Jacksonville will play in the first of two A-Sun quarterfinals Wednesday. The Bucs will play at 4 p.m., followed by Lipscomb and USC Upstate doing battle at 7 p.m.

ETSU Notes

- ETSU earns the No. 3 seed in the A-Sun Tournament, and will take on No. 6 Jacksonville. FGCU will host after defeating Mercer Saturday night, 1-0.

- ETSU defeated Jacksonville, 2-1, at Summers-Taylor Stadium earlier in the year.

- The Bucs were the No. 3 seed in 2009, defeating Lipscomb in the quarterfinals before losing to Stetson in the semis.

- In five all-time games against USC Upstate, the Bucs are still unbeaten at 3-0-2.

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