Tuesday December 1st
The 2009 SPSU Men's Soccer season came to a close on Tuesday night, as the unseeded Martin Methodist College Red Hawks defeated the #8 seed Hornets 1-0 in the Second Round of the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship. The Red Hawks generated very little offense all night and only had 1 shot on goal in 90 minutes. However, that is all that was needed to win. The Hornets finished the season with an impressive 14-2-1 overall record, while the Red Hawks advanced to the National Quarter-finals.
The Hornets started out dominating the opening minutes of the match. They managed to press the Red Hawks and get a couple of close shots, that were not on goal, but were deflected by MMC defenders close to their own goal. They were awarded with three corners kicks, yet could not get anything on goal. "I was impressed by the way they (MMC) defended all night," said SPSU Head Coach Kom Momeni. "It was the first time in 24 games that we have been held scoreless."
After the Red Hawks weathered the storm, the match became very even as both sides defended inside their own half the rest of the first half. The second half was a very different story. The Hornets lead by So. Midfielder, Kouami d'Almeida (5 shots) and Sr. Midfielder, Henning Blenkle (4 shots) were constantly harassing the Red Hawks defense. The Hornets had complete control of the match until a massive defensive mistake cost them the game.
At the 75 minute mark, a communication error between SPSU So. Defender, Matt Wood and Jr. GK, Eric Ati lead to the game winner by MMC Forward Fernando Barbeiro. The two SPSU players were unsure of who would manage the ball in between them. At the last second Wood would poke the ball, accidentally, to a wide open Barbeiro who tapped it in the back of the net.
"It's devastating to lose in such a fashion. Our defenders had so little defending to do in the second half that they lost focus. The goal was completely against the run of play and we usually do a great job on defending counter-attacks. This time our mistake sent us home," said a disappointed Momeni.
Throughout the second half, the Hornets missed opportunity after opportunity to take the lead, as the MMC GK came up with saves or MMC defenders would clear the ball deep inside the penalty area. "I really thought it was only a matter of time before we would score. They were really struggling to do anything with the ball and gave up about 5 or 6 corners on saves or deflections," said Momeni. The best chance for the Hornets came when a deflected save on a d'Almeida blast was one timed by Blenkle from about six yards out. The Blenkle shot was sent well over the net. "The ball took a slight bounce before I made contact with it," said the German Midfielder.