By Madeleine Wright
U.S. women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm once said, “It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.”
This may be true of the majority of the soccer realm, but the Furman men’s soccer team has proved otherwise as they went undefeated for 16 home games.
With the season quickly approaching its close, the Paladins still manage to stay strong with a 10-3-3 record, including a 2-1 win over Davidson on Oct. 16 at Stone Stadium.
At the beginning of the season, assistant coach Anthony Esquivel explained that this year the team’s greatest challenge was to live up to their new title as a respected top 20 D-I team.
With a combination of tough training and team pride and devotion, the team can say that they have played well this season.
From the rookies to the veteran players, every individual has done their part to acquire amazing statistics this season. They have done well to maintain their reputation as a force to be reckoned with on a national stage.
The win over Davidson exemplified their strong efforts. The first half ended with a 1-0 Furman lead after junior Martin Ontiveros took a penalty kick for Scottish freshman, Chris Duggan.
To Ontiveros and all attendees, the shove was clearly a foul and there was no argument that Furman should be awarded a penalty kick, which Ontiveros easily made.
Around ten minutes later, Ontiveros showed the crowd his talent with simulated ease. Ontiveros’ corner kick found junior midfielder Michael Gandier at the top of the six-yard box. Gandier, with a flick of his head, sunk the ball into the far right-hand post.
For Gandier, a Minnesota native, this was his third goal in the past three matches.
Davidson later retaliated at the end of the match with a whizzing shot by Ryan Malden past Furman goalkeeper Doug Ryan for a Davidson goal.
The blow of the whistle ended the match a few minutes later, securing the win for Furman. But for Furman, this was not just another win. This match against Davidson added to the ‘Dins unbeaten streak at home to a final total of 16 matches.
However, in the home finale against University of North Carolina-Greensboro, the men’s soccer team lost 1-0, breaking their amazing undefeated streak. The Paladins put up a fight, and held on until the eightieth minute of play, when one of the UNCG players managed to get the ball into the Paladin net.
This also allowed UNCG to collect their sixth consecutive win over Furman.
With only two away games left, Furman closes their home career with something to talk about, despite their undefeated home-streak coming to an end.
There is no doubt that the ‘Dins will keep up their efforts on the road to Statesboro, GA to play Georgia Southern on Oct. 23 and Spartanburg, SC on Oct. 27, where they play Wofford.
This season also has prepared the team well for the SoCon tournament, which will begin on Nov. 3.