October 30, 2009

Upstate Stays In Tournament Hunt With Win Over Belmont

Oct. 30, 2009

Box Score

Spartanburg, S.C. - USC Upstate got two second half goals, the second off the foot of Timo Foerster, to claim a 2-1 victory over Belmont Friday night, keeping the Spartans' A-Sun Tournament hopes alive heading into Sunday's conference finale.

Upstate improved to 5-8-2 overall and 2-4-2 with eight points in the A-Sun. The Spartans are now tied with Lipscomb, Sunday's opponent, just one point out of the sixth and final spot for the A-Sun Tournament. North Florida and ETSU are currently tied for the fourth spot with 10 points, while Jacksonville is in the sixth position with nine. UNF and Jacksonville are both in action tomorrow. Belmont fell to 3-12-1 overall and 2-6-0 with six points in the A-Sun. The Bruins' playoff chances took a serious blow with the loss.

"I thought that we were playing very well up to the point where they scored," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "I thought their goal gave them confidence. It was critical that we scored the equalizer after having several chances earlier in the game.

"The win was critical because anything less would have eliminated us from the conference tournament. I told the players beforehand that every game should be important regardless of the consequences of the result. Had we won a couple of our games during the course of the season, we would have already qualified for the tournament. We got the win tonight which is nice because it puts us in position to still be eligible for the conference tournament."

After falling behind 1-0 at halftime, Upstate rallied with a pair of goals in the second half to take the win. Beggs, who had a pair of chances in the first half, made up for it in the second half when he took a deflection off a Belmont defender, took two touches and fired a shot into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1 in the 51st minute.

With Upstate owning the tempo throughout the half, Belmont made a charge late in the half in an attempt to take the lead. However, Upstate goalkeeper Pat Regna came up huge for the Spartans. He made two key saves to keep the ball out of the net. The first came in the 74th minute when Justin Hay was played a through ball and took a shot from 10 yards out. Regna slid to get a foot on the ball to save the goal. The second save came in the 78th minute when he jumped to deflect Will Moorad's shot from 18 yards out.

Upstate took the lead and recorded the eventual game-winning goal in the 83rd minute off the foot of Foerster. Belmont was called for a foul 22 yards out and Foerster took the free kick and pounded a shot into the right center of the goal for the 2-1 lead and the win.

Upstate had a pair of chances to score goal in the first half as the Spartans dictated the pace of play. Beggs fought off his defender on the top left corner and went one-on-one with Belmont's keeper Lou Manning. Manning charged towards Beggs and was able to scoop up a ball that got too far away from Beggs to kill the opportunity in the seventh minute.

Beggs had another opportunity in the 16th minute when John Kadane's shot was saved by Manning, but the rebound came down to Beggs five feet out from the goal. Beggs' shot sailed over the crossbar to keep the Spartans off the scoreboard.

Belmont cashed in on Upstate's missed opportunities and scored in the 26th minute. Brandon Tarr went on a breakaway before having the ball deflected inside the box. However, Moorad was on the spot to gather the loose ball and put the ball in the net to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Upstate was solid offensively throughout the game. The Spartans finished the match with an 18-10 lead in shots and an 8-5 advantage in corner kicks. Regna finished with four saves on the night, while Manning tallied three.