Hornets Defeat Lindsey-Wilson 2-1 in Opening Round of Nationals
Saturday November 20
Hornets Beat Lindsey-Wilson College 2-1 to Advance to Round of 16
Southern Polytechnic Men's Soccer team traveled to Columbia, KY to take on the eight time National Champions, Lindsey Wilson College. The Hornets, playing in their third ever National Tournament match, in only their fourth year of existence, held on to win 2-1. Senior Midfielder, Christian Castillo, scored twice to give the Hornets the upset victory over the #6 seed, LWC, who finished the year 15-4-1 and ranked #5 in the NAIA Coaches Poll.
The match started, as expected, with the young Hornets trying to get used to the pace of the national powerhouse Blue Raiders. "Lindsey has the most amount of talent I have seen all year. They are all very athletic and technical," said SPSU Head Coach, Kom Momeni. Once the Hornets settled down, they broke through midfield and were fouled on the right side of the goal about 27 yards out. The free kick was taken by Sean Grisham, who found the head of Emeka Maduka. Maduka's header hit the cross bar and fell in front of Kouami d'Almeida, who struck the ball right at the LWC keeper, Greg Hartley. The rebound was knocked in the back of the net by a very opportunistic Castillo in the 14th minute. "I am very happy for Christian, as he has had so many good games all year long, but couldn't finish. He needed that goal to lift his spirits," said Momeni.
In the 37th minute, the Blue Raiders equalized with a brilliant goal by Lebogang Moloto, assisted by Joe Tait, who beat a Hornet defender and served a perfect ball into the box. Lebogang blasted a shot high into the net to send the match even into half time.
However, the match changed 40 seconds after the Lebogang goal, when LWC center back, Chris Williams received two yellow cards and was ejected from the match.
The second half was much of the same as the Blue Raiders had most of the play, even though they were playing a man down. The Hornets took advantage of their first shot in the half and scored the game winner in the 56th minute. It was an impressive set of combination passes between midfielders that broke down the Blue Raiders defense on the left flank. A simple pass from Sean Grisham to Castillo was the final pass in front of the LWC GK, who was beaten by a flick to the far post. "Our game winner tonight was nice to watch as it involved most of our midfield players," added Momeni.
Throughout the night, LWC applied pressure on the Hornet back line and Senior, Goalkeeper, Eric Ati. Time and again, they came up big with either, individual stops, or collective efforts to keep the ball out of the back of the net. "Lindsey is so explosive going forward. Our boys defended their hearts out tonight. I am so proud of their effort. They beat a fantastic team, who created a lot of chances. Eric came up huge tonight on services and corners. He was excellent in the air. Marcos (Mendez) also did a great job. It was the third time in a row where he shut down a big time forward."
LWC ended with 16 shots, while the Hornets only had nine. They also had more corners than the Hornets (9 to 5). Hartley finished the night with one save, while Ati had four.
With the win, SPSU travels to Orange Beach, AL to participate in the second straight Round of Sixteen in the NAIA National Championships. They will take on Holy Names University (CA) on Tuesday November 30th at 2:30pm (CST).