By Emily Barksdale
The Paladins finally had their winning streak broken recently, but they are far from falling on hard times. In fact, they are currently ranked #19 in the Fox Soccer NCAA Top 25 and #26 in the latest College Soccer News Top 30. Once again, they have begun an unbeaten run of three wins or ties in a row.
Before their streak’s snap, Furman beat USC Upstate 2-1 to extend the no-loss streak to nine. The Paladins played host to the Spartans on Sept. 27 and looked to shut them out for most of the game, until Chad McCoy scored at 89:06.
Freshman Walker Zimmerman opened up the scoring for the Purple and White when just 1:20 had expired with a close range shot off a give-and-go with junior Coleton Henning.
After that, things remained pretty quiet, until freshman Nikolai Hammer doubled the lead at 63:22 with his first collegiate goal with a header off freshman Clint Ritter’s assist. Goalkeeper Alec Kannregistered 4 saves, and the Paladins outshot USC Upstate 22-10 with a 12-5 margin in shots on goal.
It was the UNC Greensboro Spartans who finally snapped the Paladins’ winning streak with a 2-0 shutout in the USCG home stadium Saturday, Oct. 1.
In this 2010 SoCon tournament final rematch, Kann managed three saves, but it was not enough to hold of the Spartans, who tallied eight shots. It was a tight defensive game; the Paladins held off Greensboro for nearly three-quarters of the match before a pair of second-half goals by Hakan Ilhanand Austin Miller sealed the deal for the Spartans.
Furman got back on track the following Tuesday in their home match versus league rival Georgia Southern. Before a crowd of 1,616, they emerged with a 3-1 win over the Eagles, thanks to goals from Henning, Hammer and freshman Martin Ontiveros. Henning’s shot was a header off an assist from Zimmerman at 28:07, and Hammer scored at 35:08, nudging the ball past Eagle keeper Ryan Platt.
Furman remained up 2-0 on Southern until 87:19, when Witt Carlisle tapped in a goal, but the Paladins retorted with a goal of their own when Ontiveros scored unassisted. Kann recorded 3 saves on the day, and Furman outshot Georgia Southern 17-8 with a 12-4 advantage in shots on goal.
The Paladins’ next match was against the College of Charleston on Saturday, Oct. 8. The Cougars opened up the scoring at 32:17, and Furman did not respond until Amadu Ndiaye, a senior, scored off junior Danny Hoajij’s corner at 55:20 to put the two teams even just after the half. The scoring continued to go back and forth, as CofC’s goal at the 57:34 mark was answered by Henning’s fifth goal of the year (assisted by junior Alex Crooks.)
The two teams remained tied not only through regulation but two 10-minute overtimes, at the end of which the match was finally named a draw. Kann had four saves to CofC keeper Kees Heemskerk’ssix, and Furman held a 17-16 edge in shots with an 8-6 advantage in shots on goal.
Furman then continued their streak versus Elon on the Saturday evening of Fall Break in another home match. Elon’s Chris Thomas scored a quick goal at 1:11, but that was the last taste of the net that their team would enjoy.
Goals then came from Henning, sophomore Michael Gandier and Hammer at 33:28, 43:58 and 61:16, respectively. The Paladins dominated the possession throughout the game and outshot the Phoenix 17-5 with 7 shots on goal to their 3. Furman earned 10 corner kicks, only giving up 3, and Kann saved 2, registering his 33rd career victory.
The men returned to action at Clemson on Tuesday, October 18 to take on the unranked Tigers.