Eagles Blank VMI in Season Opener
STATESBORO, Ga. For the fourth consecutive year, the Georgia Southern men’s soccer team opened up the regular season with a victory, this time shutting out Virginia Military Institute, 2-0, at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center Appalachian Classic, Friday in Boone, N.C.
Heavy rains caused a change of venue from the ASU Soccer Stadium to Kidd Brewer Stadium where the two teams clashed for the 15th time in the series history.
Though the first half saw Georgia Southern fire 11 shots, compared to VMI’s three, it wasn’t until three minutes into the second half that the Eagles netted their first goal.
Sophomore forward Jon-Pierre Anthony (Birmingham, Ala.) scored the game winning goal in the 48th minute after dribbling into the box and firing a shot from three yards out. The goal was unassisted and is his first wearing the blue and white.
“I felt the game was exactly what we thought it would be,” said second year head coach Kevin Kennedy. “VMI was organized and fit. It took us a while to break them down and we had to grind it out. It certainly wasn’t’ easy. We found it difficult to play with any certain rhythm.”
The Eagles continued to pound the ball up the field, registering nine shots in the second half. Freshman forward Luigi Clendening (Augusta, Ga.) was responsible for GSU’s insurance goal in the 88th minute. Junior forward Daniel Smith (Marietta, Ga.) connected with Clendening at the edge of the six yard box and the newcomer found the back of the net, scoring his first collegiate goal.
The Eagles showered 20 total shots throughout the non-conference match-up, compared to VMI’s six.
“I felt like we had a handful of really good opportunities,” said Kennedy. “But our finishing wasn’t that great. It’s one of those days that you just have to grind it out and see what happens. One thing that was typical for us today, we had the jitters for the first game. Playing on the turf was difficult.”
In his first collegiate appearance, sophomore Joey Ralph (Martinez, Ga.) garnered both his first career win and shutout, making two saves on the day. Credited with the loss is VMI’s Brian Sowell who pulled in 12 saves.
Though the Eagles produced plenty of scoring opportunities, GSU struggled to get into a consistent rhythm.
“We showed flashes of things that we'd like to do,” said Kennedy. “But today we just couldn’t get into a rhythm. We need to play more consistently than we did today.”
The Eagles will have Saturday to prepare for a tough Sunday match-up versus Western Illinois. The Leathernecks are seeking to defend their 2006 Summit League title this year and were recently voted by the league’s preseason coaches’ poll to repeat the championship.
The Eagles are slated to play WIU, Sunday at noon.
- Category: Men's Soccer
- Published on Friday, 31 August 2007 00:15