Asheville, N.C. – USC Upstate used relentless pressure throughout the match and took a 1-0 road victory over UNC Asheville in non-conference men's soccer action at Greenwood Field Monday afternoon.
Upstate improved to 1-1-0 on the year with the win. The Spartans will not play again until next Monday when they host Presbyterian in their home opener at County University Soccer Stadium. UNCA fell to 1-1-0 with the loss.
Upstate clearly dictated the pace of play in the first half and put constant pressure on UNCA. The Spartans methodically kept the ball on the Bulldogs' side of the field throughout the half. Upstate finished the half with a 7-0 lead in shots, due in part to the offensive pressure it put on the Bulldogs and its solid defensive effort.
"It was a little deceptive because they had a couple of one-on-one opportunities with our keeper and they just never got a shot off. But, I think this is the first time in a long time that we have held a team without a shot in a half. It was a really good all-around effort, particularly in the first half," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks.
Upstate had an early opportunity a little over 13 minutes into the game when senior Tim Bailey (Simpsonville, S.C.) and sophomore Dave Musambi (Ottawa, Ontario) turned in a nice give-and-go play. Bailey fed Musambi who played a one-touch pass back to Bailey. Bailey was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but UNCA's Dan Jackson made the save.
Musambi and Bailey teamed on another strong scoring opportunity in the 20th-minute when Bailey broke down the defense on the left side. However, Musambi's shot deflected off of the keeper and was saved by a Bulldog defender.
Upstate's relentless pressure paid off when John Kadane (Garland, Texas) played a long ball from the back to Kareem Richardson (Port of Spain, Trinidad). Richardson gave a one-touch pass to Musambi who put the shot in from eight yards out to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead in the 22nd-minute.
UNCA opened the second half determined to put the first half well in the rear view mirror. The Bulldogs put together a push and took a shot just 29 seconds into the period. However, the shot by Andrew Sotak sailed over the bar.
Upstate missed a golden opportunity to open a two-goal lead in the 58th-minute. UNCA was called for a handball in the box. However, UNCA's Jackson guessed right and came up with the diving save to his left.
Following the missed penalty kick by Upstate, the match was relatively uneventful for the next 22 minutes as neither team generated any solid scoring opportunities. The next best opportunity to score came off the foot of Matt Begley (Summerville, S.C.), whose shot from 16 yards out on the left side of the box was tipped over the bar by the Bulldog keeper with a little more than 10 minutes to play.
"I thought fatigue played a big part in today's game," said Hooks. "We played very well in the first half and then I thought fatigue set in for both teams in the second half. I think we are a fairly fit team for this time of year, but we felt it in the second half."
Dani Alvarado (Leander, Texas), who earlier in the day was named the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Week, came up big with a save with just over five minutes to play. Quentin Reynolds was one-on-one with Alvarado, but Alvarado smothered the ball before Reynolds could get off a strong shot.
Upstate finished the game with a 15-7 lead in shots. Alvarado finished with four saves on the day to get the win in goal for the Spartans.